This series of SCANDINAVIAN CLASSICS was published by the American-Scandinavian Foundation in the belief that greater familiarity with the chief literary monuments of the North will help Americans to a better understanding of Scandinavians, and thus serve to stimulate their sympathetic co-operation to good ends.
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CATILINE, THE WARRIOR'S BARROW, OLAF LILJEKRANS
TRANSLATED FROM THE NORWEGIAN BY ANDERS ORBECK, A. M.
Assistant Professor of English in the University of Montana
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O. W. Firkins
Teacher and Friend and Inspirer of these Translations._
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THE WARRIOR'S BARROW
LIST OF FOUNDATION PUBLICATIONS
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One of the most remarkable facts about Ibsen is the orderly development of his genius. He himself repeatedly maintained that his dramas were not mere isolated accidents. In the foreword to the readers in the popular edition of 1898 he urges the public to read his dramas in the same order in which he had written them, deplores the fact that his earlier works are less known and less understood than his later works, and insists that his writings taken as a whole constitute an organic unity. The three of his plays offered here for the first time in English translation will afford those not familiar with the original Norwegian some light on the early stages of his development.
Catiline, the earliest of Ibsen's plays, was written in 1849, while Ibsen was an apothecary's apprentice in Grimstad. It appeared in Christiania in the following spring under the pseudonym Brynjolf Bjarme. The revolutionary atmosphere of 1848-49, the reading of the story of Catiline in Sallust and Cicero in preparation for the university examinations, the hostility which existed between the apprentice and his immediate social environment, the fate which the play met at the hands of the theatrical management and the publishers, his own struggles at the time,—are all set forth clearly enough in the preface to the second edition. The play was written in the blank verse of Oehlenschlaeger's romantic dramas. Ibsen's portrayal of the Roman politician is not in accord with tradition; Catiline is not an out-and-out reprobate, but an unfortunate and highly sensitive individual in whom idealism and licentiousness struggle for mastery. Vasenius, in his study of the poet (Ibsens Dramatiska Diktning in dess Forsta Skede, Helsingfors, 1879), insists that Ibsen thus intuitively hit upon the real Catiline revealed by later nineteenth century research. The poet seems not to have heard of Duma's Catiline, which appeared about the same time, nor of earlier plays on the subject by Ben Jonson and others. The struggle in Ibsen's play is centered in the soul of Catiline; not once do his political opponents appear on the scene. Only one critic raised his voice in behalf of the play at the time of its appearance, and only a few copies of the original edition survive. Ibsen issued in 1875 a revised edition in celebration of his twenty-fifth anniversary as an author. Since then a third edition has been issued in 1891, and a fourth in 1913.
The Warrior's Barrow, Ibsen's second play, was finished in 1850 shortly after the publication of Catiline. Ibsen entered upon his literary career with a gusto he seems soon to have lost; he wrote to his friend Ole Schulerud in January, 1850, that he was working on a play about Olaf Trygvesson, an historical novel, and a longer poem. He had begun The Warrior's Barrow while he was still at Grimstad, but this early version, called The Normans, he revised on reaching Christiania. In style and manner and even in subject-matter the play echoes Oehlenschlaeger. Ibsen's vikings are, however, of a fiercer type than Oehlenschlaeger's, and this treatment of viking character was one of the things the critics, bred to Oehlenschlaeger's romantic conception of more civilized vikings, found fault with in Ibsen's play. The sketch fared better than Catiline: it was thrice presented on the stage in Christiania and was on the whole favorably reviewed. When Ibsen became associated with the Bergen theater he undertook another revision of the play, and in this version the play was presented on the stage in 1854 and 1856. The final version was published in the Bergenske Blad in 1854, but no copy of this issue has survived; the play remained inaccessible to the public until 1902, when it was included in a supplementary volume (Volume X) to Ibsen's collected works. The earlier version remained in manuscript form until it was printed in 1917 in Scandinavian Studies and Notes (Vol. IV, pp. 309-337).
Olaf Liljekrans, which was presented on the Bergen stage in 1857, marks the end of Ibsen's early romantic interest. The original idea for this play, which he had begun in 1850, he found in the folk-tale "The Grouse in Justedal," about a girl who alone had survived the Black Death in an isolated village. Ibsen had with many others become interested in popular folk-tales and ballads. It was from Faye's Norwegian Folk-Tales (1844) that he took the story of "The Grouse in Justedal." His interest was so great that he even turned collector. Twice during this period he petitioned for and received small university grants to enable him to travel and "collect songs and legends still current among the people." Of the seventy or eighty "hitherto unpublished legends" which he collected on the first of these trips only a few have ever appeared in print; the results of his second trip are unknown. Ibsen had great faith in the availability of this medieval material for dramatic purposes; he even wrote an essay, "The Heroic Ballad and Its Significance for Artistic Poetry," urging its superior claims in contrast to that of the saga material, to which he was himself shortly to turn. The original play based on "The Grouse in Justedal" was left unfinished. After the completion of Lady Inger of Ostrat and The Feast at Solhoug he came back to it, and taking a suggestion from the ballad in Landstad's collection (1852-3) he recast the whole play, substituted the ballad meter for the iambic pentameters, and called the new version Olaf Liljekrans. Olaf Liljekrans indicates clearly a decline in Ibsen's interest in pure romance. It is much more satirical than The Feast at Solhoug, and marks a step in the direction of those superb masterpieces of satire and romance, Brand and Peer Gynt. The play was twice presented on the stage in Bergen with considerable success, but the critics treated it harshly.
The relationship of the revised versions to the original versions of Ibsen's early plays is interesting, and might, if satisfactorily elucidated, throw considerable light on the development of his genius. It is evident that he was in this early period experimenting in metrical forms. He employed blank verse in Catiline, in the original version of The Grouse in Justedal, and even as late as 1853 in the revision of The Warrior's Barrow. There can be no question but that he was here following the Ochlenschlaeger tradition. Unrhymed pentameter, however, did not seem to satisfy him. He could with difficulty keep from falling into rhyme in Catiline, and in the early version of The Warrior's Barrow he used rhymed pentameters. After the revision of this play he threw aside blank verse altogether. "Iambic pentameter," he says in the essay on the heroic ballad, "is by no means the most suitable form for the treatment of ancient Scandinavian material; this form of verse is altogether foreign to our national meters, and it is surely through a national form that the national material can find its fullest expression." The folk-tale and the ballad gave him the suggestion he needed. In The Feast at Solhoug and the final version of Olaf Liljekrans he employed the ballad meter, and this form became the basis for the verse in all his later metrical plays.
Six years intervened between The Grouse in Justedal and Olaf Liljekrans, and the revision in this case amounted almost to the writing of a new play. Fredrik Paasche in his study (Olaf Liljekrans, Christiania, 1909) discusses the relation of Olaf Liljekrans to the earlier form of the play. Three years intervened between the first and final versions of The Warrior's Barrow. Professor A. M. Sturtevant maintains (Journal of English and Germanic Philology, XII, 407 ff.) that although "the influence of Ochlenschlaeger upon both versions of The Warrior's Barrow is unmistakable," yet "the two versions differ so widely from each other ... that it may be assumed that ... Ibsen had begun to free himself from the thraldom of Ochlenschlaeger's romantic conception of the viking character." He points out the influence of Welhaven and Heiberg on the second version, elaborates upon the superior character-delineation, and shows in considerable detail the "inner necessity ... which brings about the change of heart in Gandalf and his warriors."
The revision of Catiline came twenty-five years after the original version, and consisted largely of linguistic changes. Ibsen seems never to have completely disowned this play; it has been included in all the complete editions, whereas The Warrior's Barrow and Olaf Liljekrans appear only in the first complete edition, and were even then relegated to a supplementary volume. In suggesting the revision of Catiline, Ibsen proposed "to make no change in the thought and ideas, but only in the language in which these are expressed; for the verses are, as Brandes has somewhere remarked, bad,—one reason being that the book was printed from my first rough uncorrected draft." He had at that time not developed his careful craftsmanship, and sought in the revision merely to put the drama into the form which he had originally had in mind, but which at that time he had been unable to achieve. The changes that were actually made are summarized by D. A. Seip (Ibsen, Samlede Digter Verker, 1918, VII, 114) who quotes Halvdan Koht and Julius Elias (Ibsen, Efterladte Skrifter, III): "The two editions 'agree in the sequence of tenses, with a few exceptions also in the sequence of speeches, and on the whole even in the sequence of lines. The changes involve principally the poetic expression itself; after the second act they become more and more extensive, and the last two acts have been augmented with 100 lines.' ... Not infrequently there appear words and expressions which are suggestive of Ibsen's later works."
These plays now appear for the first time in English translation. A. Johnstone published in Translations from the Norse, by a B. S. S. (Gloucester, about 1876), an English rendering of the first act of Catiline and a synopsis of the last two acts. William Archer explains at length his omission of Catiline from his edition of Ibsen. "A great part of the interest lies in the very crudities of its style, which it would be a thankless task to reproduce in translation. Moreover, the poet impaired even its biographical value by largely rewriting it before publication. He did not make it, or attempt to make it, a better play, but he in some measure corrected its juvenility of expression. Which version, then, should a translator choose? To go back to the original would seem a deliberate disregard of the poet's wishes; while, on the other hand, the retouched version is clearly of far inferior interest. It seems advisable, therefore, to leave the play alone, as far as this edition is concerned." Olaf Liljekrans and The Warrior's Barrow were acted in English in London in 1911 and 1912 respectively, but the English renderings used in these presentations have never appeared in print.
The text of Catiline in the present translation is that of the revised version as given in the edition of 1906-07; the text of the other two plays is that of the edition of 1898-1902. The meters of the original have been carefully reproduced. The great difficulty of rendering the ballad and lyrical meters of Ibsen into adequate English verse has made some stylistic changes necessary, such as the substitution of masculine for feminine rhymes, and the occasional alteration of the sense in slight measure.
I take this opportunity to acknowledge my gratitude to Professor O. W. Firkins, now of The Weekly Review, who suggested the translating of these plays and who offered from time to time invaluable criticisms; to Professor Howard M. Jones, of the University of Texas, Professor S. B. Hustvedt, of the University of Minnesota, and Professor W. W. Lawrence, of Columbia University, who read all or parts of these translations and made many helpful suggestions; and to Professor G. P. Krapp, of Columbia University, and my wife, who were of assistance in various ways.
New York, January 3, 1921.
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A Drama in Three Acts
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PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION
The drama Catiline, with which I entered upon my literary career, was written during the winter of 1848-49, that is in my twenty-first year.
I was at the time in Grimstad, under the necessity of earning with my hands the wherewithal of life and the means for instruction preparatory to my taking the entrance examinations to the university. The age was one of great stress. The February revolution, the uprisings in Hungary and elsewhere, the Slesvig war,—all this had a great effect upon and hastened my development, however immature it may have remained for some time after. I wrote ringing poems of encouragement to the Magyars, urging them for the sake of liberty and humanity to hold out in the righteous struggle against the "tyrants"; I wrote a long series of sonnets to King Oscar, containing particularly, as far as I can remember, an appeal to set aside all petty considerations and to march forthwith at the head of his army to the aid of our brothers on the outermost borders of Slesvig. Inasmuch as I now, in contrast to those times, doubt that my winged appeals would in any material degree have helped the cause of the Magyars or the Scandinavians, I consider it fortunate that they remained within the more private sphere of the manuscript. I could not, however, on more formal occasions keep from expressing myself in the impassioned spirit of my poetic effusions, which meanwhile brought me nothing—from friends or non-friends—but a questionable reward; the former greeted me as peculiarly fitted for the unintentionally droll, and the latter thought it in the highest degree strange that a young person in my subordinate position could undertake to inquire into affairs concerning which not even they themselves dared to entertain an opinion. I owe it to truth to add that my conduct at various times did not justify any great hope that society might count on an increase in me of civic virtue, inasmuch as I also, with epigrams and caricatures, fell out with many who had deserved better of me and whose friendship I in reality prized. Altogether,—while a great struggle raged on the outside, I found myself on a war-footing with the little society where I lived cramped by conditions and circumstances of life.
Such was the situation when amid the preparations for my examinations I read through Sallust's Catiline together with Cicero's Catilinarian orations. I swallowed these documents, and a few months later my drama was complete. As will be seen from my book, I did not share at that time the conception of the two ancient Roman writers respecting the character and conduct of Catiline, and I am even now prone to believe that there must after all have been something great and consequential in a man whom Cicero, the assiduous counsel of the majority, did not find it expedient to engage until affairs had taken such a turn that there was no longer any danger involved in the attack. It should also be remembered that there are few individuals in history whose renown has been more completely in the hands of enemies than that of Catiline.
My drama was written during the hours of the night. The leisure hours for my study I practically had to steal from my employer, a good and respectable man, occupied however heart and soul with his business, and from those stolen study hours I again stole moments for writing verse. There was consequently scarcely anything else to resort to but the night. I believe this is the unconscious reason that almost the entire action of the piece transpires at night.
Naturally a fact so incomprehensible to my associates as that I busied myself with the writing of plays had to be kept secret; but a twenty-year old poet can hardly continue thus without anybody being privy to it, and I confided therefore to two friends of my own age what I was secretly engaged upon.
The three of us pinned great expectations on Catiline when it had been completed. First and foremost it was now to be copied in order to be submitted under an assumed name to the theater in Christiania, and furthermore it was of course to be published. One of my faithful and trusting friends undertook to prepare a handsome and legible copy of my uncorrected draft, a task which he performed with such a degree of conscientiousness that he did not omit even a single one of the innumerable dashes which I in the heat of composition had liberally interspersed throughout wherever the exact phrase did not for the moment occur to me. The second of my friends, whose name I here mention since he is no longer among the living, Ole C. Schulerud, at that time a student, later a lawyer, went to Christiania with the transcript. I still remember one of his letters in which he informed me that Catiline had now been submitted to the theater; that it would soon be given a performance,—about that there could naturally be no doubt inasmuch as the management consisted of very discriminating men; and that there could be as little doubt that the booksellers of the town would one and all gladly pay a round fee for the first edition, the main point being, he thought, only to discover the one who would make the highest bid.
After a long and tense period of waiting there began to appear in the meantime a few difficulties. My friend had the piece returned from the management with a particularly polite but equally peremptory rejection. He now took the manuscript from bookseller to bookseller; but all to a man expressed themselves to the same effect as the theatrical management. The highest bidder demanded so and so much to publish the piece without any fee.
All this, however, was far from lessening my friend's belief in victory. He wrote to the contrary that it was best even so; I should come forward myself as the publisher of my drama; the necessary funds he would advance me; the profits we should divide in consideration of his undertaking the business end of the deal, except the proof-reading, which he regarded as superfluous in view of the handsome and legible manuscript the printers had to follow. In a later letter he declared that, considering these promising prospects for the future, he contemplated abandoning his studies in order to consecrate himself completely to the publishing of my works; two or three plays a year, he thought, I should with ease be able to write, and according to a calculation of probabilities he had made he had discovered that with our surplus we should at no distant time be able to undertake the journey so often agreed upon or discussed, through Europe and the Orient.
My journey was for the time being limited to Christiania. I arrived there in the beginning of the spring of 1850 and just previous to my arrival Catiline had appeared in the bookstalls. The drama created a stir and awakened considerable interest among the students, but the critics dwelt largely on the faulty verses and thought the book in other respects immature. A more appreciative judgment was uttered from but one single quarter, but this expression came from a man whose appreciation has always been dear to me and weighty and whom I herewith offer my renewed gratitude. Not very many copies of the limited edition were sold; my friend had a good share of them in his custody, and I remember that one evening when our domestic arrangements heaped up for us insurmountable difficulties, this pile of printed matter was fortunately disposed of as waste paper to a huckster. During the days immediately following we lacked none of the prime necessities of life.
During my sojourn at home last summer and particularly since my return here there loomed up before me more clearly and more sharply than ever before the kaleidoscopic scenes of my literary life. Among other things I also brought out Catiline. The contents of the book as regards details I had almost forgotten; but by reading it through anew I found that it nevertheless contained a great deal which I could still acknowledge, particularly if it be remembered that it is my first undertaking. Much, around which my later writings center, the contradiction between ability and desire, between will and possibility, the intermingled tragedy and comedy in humanity and in the individual,—appeared already here in vague foreshadowings, and I conceived therefore the plan of preparing a new edition, a kind of jubilee-edition,—a plan to which my publisher with his usual readiness gave his approval.
But it was naturally not enough simply to reprint without further ado the old original edition, for this is, as already pointed out, nothing but a copy of my imperfect and uncorrected concept or of the very first rough draft. In the rereading of it I remembered clearly what I originally had had in mind, and I saw moreover that the form practically nowhere gave a satisfactory rendering of what I had wished.
I determined therefore to revise this drama of my youth in a way in which I believe even at that time I should have been able to do it had the time been at my disposal and the circumstances more favorable for me. The ideas, the conceptions, and the development of the whole, I have not on the other hand altered. The book has remained the original; only now it appears in a complete form.
With this in mind I pray that my friends in Scandinavia and elsewhere will receive it; I pray that they will receive it as a greeting from me at the close of a period which to me has been full of changes and rich in contradictions. Much of what I twenty-five years ago dreamed has been realized, even though not in the manner nor as soon as I then hoped. Yet I believe now that it was best for me thus; I do not wish that any of that which lies between should have been untried, and if I look back upon what I have lived through I do so with thanks for everything and thanks to all.
Dresden, February, 1875.
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LUCIUS CATILINE A noble Roman.
AURELIA His wife.
FURIA A vestal.
CURIUS A youth related to Catiline.
MANLIUS An old warrior.
LENTULUS Young and noble Roman.
GABINIUS " " " "
STATILIUS " " " "
COEPARIUS " " " "
CETHEGUS " " " "
AMBIORIX Ambassador of the Allobroges.
OLLOVICO " " " "
An old MAN.
PRIESTESSES and SERVANTS in the Temple of Vesta.
GLADIATORS and WARRIORS.
ESCORT of the Allobroges.
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The first and second acts are laid in and near Rome, the third act in Etruria.
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[The Flaminian Way outside of Rome. Off the road a wooded hillside. In the background loom the walls and the heights of the city. It is evening.]
[CATILINE stands on the hill among the bushes, leaning against a tree.]
CATILINE. I must! I must! A voice deep in my soul Urges me on,—and I will heed its call. Courage I have and strength for something better, Something far nobler than this present life,— A series of unbridled dissipations—! No, no; they do not satisfy the yearning soul.
CATILINE. I rave and rave,—long only to forget. 'Tis past now,—all is past! Life has no aim.
CATILINE. [After a pause.] And what became of all my youthful dreams? Like flitting summer clouds they disappeared, Left naught behind but sorrow and remorse;— Each daring hope in turn fate robbed me of.
[He strikes his forehead.]
CATILINE. Despise yourself! Catiline, scorn yourself! You feel exalted powers in your soul;— And yet what is the goal of all your struggle? The surfeiting of sensual desires.
CATILINE. [More calmly.] But there are times, such as the present hour, When secret longings kindle in my breast. Ah, when I gaze on yonder city, Rome, The proud, the rich,—and when I see that ruin And wretchedness to which it now is sunk Loom up before me like the flaming sun,— Then loudly calls a voice within my soul: Up, Catiline;—awake and be a man!
CATILINE. [Abruptly.] Ah, these are but delusions of the night, Mere dreaming phantoms born of solitude. At the slightest sound from grim reality,— They flee into the silent depths within.
[The ambassadors of the Allobroges, AMBIORIX and OLLOVICO, with their Escort, come down the highway without noticing CATILINE.]
AMBIORIX. Behold our journey's end! The walls of Rome! To heaven aspires the lofty Capitol.
OLLOVICO. So that is Rome? Italy's overlord, Germany's soon,—and Gaul's as well, perchance.
AMBIORIX. Ah, yes, alas;—so it may prove betimes; The sovereign power of Rome is merciless; It crushes all it conquers, down to earth. Now shall we see what lot we may expect: If here be help against the wrongs at home, And peace and justice for our native land.
OLLOVICO. It will be granted us.
AMBIORIX. So let us hope; For we know nothing yet with certainty.
OLLOVICO. You fear somewhat, it seems?
AMBIORIX. And with good reason. Jealous was ever Rome of her great power. And bear in mind, this proud and haughty realm Is not by chieftains ruled, as is our land. At home the wise man or the warrior reigns,— The first in wisdom and in war the foremost; Him choose we as the leader of our people, As arbiter and ruler of our tribe. But here—
CATILINE. [Calls down to them.] —Here might and selfishness hold sway;— Intrigue and craft are here the keys to power.
OLLOVICO. Woe to us, brethren, woe! He spies upon us.
AMBIORIX. [To CATILINE.] Is such the practice of the high-born Roman? A woman's trick we hold it in our nation.
CATILINE. [comes down on the road.] Ah, have no fear;—spying is not my business; By chance it was I heard your conversation.— Come you from Allobrogia far away? Justice you think to find in Rome? Ah, never! Turn home again! Here tyranny holds sway, And rank injustice lords it more than ever. Republic to be sure it is in name; And yet all men are slaves who cringe and cower, Vassals involved in debt, who must acclaim A venal senate—ruled by greed and power. Gone is the social consciousness of old, The magnanimity of former ages;— Security and life are favors sold, Which must be bargained for with hire and wages. Not righteousness, but power here holds sway; The noble man is lost among the gilded—
AMBIORIX. But say,—who then are you to tear away The pillars of the hope on which we builded?
CATILINE. A man who burns in freedom's holy zeal; An enemy of all unrighteous power; Friend of the helpless trodden under heel,— Eager to hurl the mighty from their tower.
AMBIORIX. The noble race of Rome—? Ah, Roman, speak— Since we are strangers here you would deceive us? Is Rome no more the guardian of the weak, The dread of tyrants,—ready to relieve us?
CATILINE. [Points towards the city and speaks.] Behold the mighty Capitol that towers On yonder heights in haughty majesty. See, in the glow of evening how it lowers, Tinged with the last rays of the western sky.— So too Rome's evening glow is fast declining, Her freedom now is thraldom, dark as night.— Yet in her sky a sun will soon be shining, Before which darkness quick will take its flight.
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[A colonnade in Rome.]
[LENTULUS, STATILIUS, COEPARIUS, and CETHEGUS enter, in eager conversation.]
COEPARIUS. Yes, you are right; things go from bad to worse; And what the end will be I do not know.
CETHEGUS. Bah! I am not concerned about the end. The fleeting moment I enjoy; each cup Of pleasure as it comes I empty,—letting All else go on to ruin as it will.
LENTULUS. Happy is he who can. I am not blessed With your indifference, that can outface The day when nothing shall be left us more, Nothing with which to pay the final score.
STATILIUS. And not the faintest glimpse of better things! Yet it is true: a mode of life like ours—
CETHEGUS. Enough of that!
LENTULUS. Today because of debt The last of my inheritance was seized.
CETHEGUS. Enough of sorrow and complaint! Come, friends! We'll drown them in a merry drinking bout!
COEPARIUS. Yes, let us drink. Come, come, my merry comrades!
LENTULUS. A moment, friends; I see old Manlius yonder,— Seeking us out, I think, as is his wont.
MANLIUS. [Enters impetuously.] Confound the shabby dogs, the paltry scoundrels! Justice and fairness they no longer know!
LENTULUS. Come, what has happened? Wherefore so embittered?
STATILIUS. Have usurers been plaguing you as well?
MANLIUS. Something quite different. As you all know, I served with honor among Sulla's troops; A bit of meadow land was my reward. And when the war was at an end, I lived Thereon; it furnished me my daily bread. Now is it taken from me! Laws decree— State property shall to the state revert For equal distribution. Theft, I say,— It is rank robbery and nothing else! Their greed is all they seek to satisfy.
COEPARIUS. Thus with our rights they sport to please themselves. The mighty always dare do what they will.
CETHEGUS. [Gaily.] Hard luck for Manlius! Yet, a worse mishap Has come to me, as I shall now relate. Listen,—you know my pretty mistress, Livia,— The little wretch has broken faith with me, Just now when I had squandered for her sake The slender wealth that still remained to me.
STATILIUS. Extravagance—the cause of your undoing.
CETHEGUS. Well, as you please; but I will not forego My own desires; these, while the day is fair, To their full measure I will satisfy.
MANLIUS. And I who fought so bravely for the glory And might which now the vaunting tyrants boast! I shall—! If but the brave old band were here, My comrades of the battlefield! But no; The greater part of them, alas, is dead; The rest live scattering in many lands.—
MANLIUS. Oh, what are you, the younger blood, to them? You bend and cringe before authority; You dare not break the chains that bind you fast; You suffer patiently this life of bondage!
LENTULUS. By all the Gods,—although indeed he taunts us, Yet, Romans, is there truth in what he says.
CETHEGUS. Oh, well,—what of it? He is right, we grant, But where shall we begin? Ay, there's the rub.
LENTULUS. Yes, it is true. Too long have we endured This great oppression. Now—now is the time To break the bonds asunder that injustice And vain ambition have about us forged.
STATILIUS. Ah, Lentulus, I understand. Yet hold; For such a thing we need a mighty leader,— With pluck and vision. Where can he be found?
LENTULUS. I know a man who has the power to lead us.
MANLIUS. Ah, you mean Catiline?
LENTULUS. The very man.
CETHEGUS. Yes, Catiline perchance is just the man.
MANLIUS. I know him well. I was his father's friend; Many a battle side by side we fought. Often his young son went with him to war. Even his early years were wild and headstrong; Yet he gave open proof of rare endowments,— His mind was noble, dauntless was his courage.
LENTULUS. We'll find him, as I think, most prompt and willing. I met him late this evening much depressed; He meditates in secret some bold plan;— Some desperate scheme he long has had in mind.
STATILIUS. No doubt; the consulate he long has sought.
LENTULUS. His efforts are in vain; his enemies Have madly raged against him in the senate;— He was himself among them; full of wrath He left the council—brooding on revenge.
STATILIUS. Then will he surely welcome our proposal.
LENTULUS. I hope so. Yet must we in secret weigh Our enterprise. The time is opportune.
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[In the Temple of Vesta in Rome. On an altar in the background burns a lamp with the sacred fire.]
[CATILINE, followed by CURIUS, comes stealing in between the pillars.]
CURIUS. What, Catiline,—you mean to bring me here? In Vesta's temple!
CATILINE. [Laughing.] Well, yes; so you see!
CURIUS. Ye gods,—what folly! On this very day Has Cicero denounced you in the council; And yet you dare—
CATILINE. Oh, let that be forgotten!
CURIUS. You are in danger, and forget it thus— By rushing blindly into some new peril.
CATILINE. [Gaily.] Well, change is my delight. I never knew Ere now a vestal's love,—forbidden fruit;— Wherefore I came to try my fortune here.
CURIUS. What,—here, you say? Impossible! A jest!
CATILINE. A jest? Why, yes,—as all my loving is. And yet I was in earnest when I spoke. During the recent games I chanced to see The priestesses in long and pompous train. By accident I cast my roving eye On one of them,—and with a hasty glance She met my gaze. It pierced me to the soul. Ah, the expression in those midnight eyes I never saw before in any woman.
CURIUS. Yes, yes, I know. But speak—what followed then?
CATILINE. A way into the temple I have found, And more than once I've seen and spoken to her. Oh, what a difference between this woman And my Aurelia!
CURIUS. And you love them both At once? No,—that I cannot understand.
CATILINE. Yes, strange, indeed; I scarcely understand myself. And yet—I love them both, as you have said. But oh, how vastly different is this love! The one is kind: Aurelia often lulls With soothing words my soul to peace and rest;— But Furia—. Come, away; some one approaches.
[They hide themselves among the pillars.]
FURIA. [Enters from the opposite side.] Oh, hated walls,—witnesses of my anguish. Home of the torment I must suffer still! My hopes and cherished aspirations languish Within my bosom,—now with feverish chill Pervaded, now with all the heat of passion, More hot and burning than yon vestal fire.
FURIA. Ah, what a fate! And what was my transgression That chained me to this temple-prison dire,— That robbed my life of every youthful pleasure,— In life's warm spring each innocent delight?
FURIA. Yet tears I shall not shed in undue measure; Hatred and vengeance shall my heart excite.
CATILINE. [Comes forward.] Not even for me, my Furia, do you cherish Another feeling,—one more mild than this?
FURIA. Ye gods! you, reckless man,—you here again? Do you not fear to come—?
CATILINE. I know no fear. 'Twas always my delight to mock at danger.
FURIA. Oh, splendid! Such is also my delight;— This peaceful temple here I hate the more, Because I live in everlasting calm, And danger never lurks within its walls.
FURIA. Oh, this monotonous, inactive life, A life faint as the flicker of the lamp—! How cramped a field it is for all my sum Of fervid longings and far-reaching plans! Oh, to be crushed between these narrow walls;— Life here grows stagnant; every hope is quenched; The day creeps slowly on in drowsiness,— And not one single thought is turned to deeds.
CATILINE. O Furia, strange, in truth, is your complaint! It seems an echo out of my own soul,— As if with flaming script you sought to paint My every longing towards a worthy goal. Rancour and hate in my soul likewise flourish; My heart—as yours—hate tempers into steel; I too was robbed of hopes I used to nourish; An aim in life I now no longer feel.
CATILINE. In silence still I mask my grief, my want; And none can guess what smoulders in my breast. They scoff and sneer at me,—these paltry things; They can not grasp how high my bosom beats For right and freedom, all the noble thoughts That ever stirred within a Roman mind.
FURIA. I knew it! Ah, your soul, and yours alone, Is born for me,—thus clearly speaks a voice That never fails and never plays me false. Then come! Oh, come—and let us heed the call.
CATILINE. What do you mean, my sweet enthusiast?
FURIA. Come,—let us leave this place, flee far away, And seek a new and better fatherland. Here is the spirit's lofty pride repressed; Here baseness smothers each auspicious spark Ere it can break into a burning flame. Come, let us fly;—lo, to the free-born mind The world's wide compass is a fatherland!
CATILINE. Oh, irresistibly you lure me on—
FURIA. Come, let us use the present moment then! High o'er the hills, beyond the sea's expanse,— Far, far from Rome we first will stay our journey. Thousands of friends will follow you outright; In foreign lands we shall a home design; There shall we rule; 'twill there be brought to light That no hearts ever beat as yours and mine.
CATILINE. Oh, wonderful!—But flee? Why must we flee? Here too our love for freedom can be nourished; Here also is a field for thought and action, As vast as any that your soul desires.
FURIA. Here, do you say? Here, in this paltry Rome, Where naught exists but thraldom and oppression? Ah, Lucius, are you likewise one of those Who can Rome's past recall without confession Of shame? Who ruled here then? Who rule to-day? Then an heroic race—and now a rabble, The slaves of other slaves—
CATILINE. Mock me you may;— Yet know,—to save Rome's freedom from this babble, To see yet once again her vanished splendor, Gladly I should, like Curtius, throw myself Into the abyss—
FURIA. I trust you, you alone; Your eyes glow bright; I know you speak the truth. Yet go; the priestesses will soon appear; Their wont it is to meet here at this hour.
CATILINE. I go; but only to return again. A magic power binds me to your side;— So proud a woman have I never seen.
FURIA. [With a wild smile.] Then pledge me this; and swear that you will keep Whatever you may promise. Will you, Lucius?
CATILINE. I will do aught my Furia may require; Command me,—tell me what am I to promise.
FURIA. Then listen. Though I dwell a captive here, I know there lives a man somewhere in Rome Whom I have sworn deep enmity to death— And hatred even beyond the gloomy grave.
CATILINE. And then—?
FURIA. Then swear, my enemy shall be Your enemy till death. Will you, my Lucius?
CATILINE. I swear it here by all the mighty gods! I swear it by my father's honored name And by my mother's memory—! But, Furia,— What troubles you? Your eyes are wildly flaming,— And white as marble, deathlike, are your cheeks.
FURIA. I do not know myself. A fiery stream Flows through my veins. Swear to the end your oath!
CATILINE. Oh, mighty powers, pour out upon this head Your boundless fury, let your lightning wrath Annihilate me, if I break my oath; Aye, like a demon I shall follow him!
FURIA. Enough! I trust you. Ah, my heart is eased. In your hand now indeed rests my revenge.
CATILINE. It shall be carried out. But tell me this,— Who is your foe? And what was his transgression?
FURIA. Close by the Tiber, far from the city's tumult, My cradle stood; it was a quiet home! A sister much beloved lived with me there, A chosen vestal from her childhood days.— Then came a coward to our distant valley;— He saw the fair, young priestess of the future—
CATILINE. [Surprised.] A priestess? Tell me—! Speak—!
FURIA. He ravished her. She sought a grave beneath the Tiber's stream.
CATILINE. [Uneasy.] You know him?
FURIA. I have never seen the man. When first I heard the tidings, all was past. His name is all I know.
CATILINE. Then speak it out!
FURIA. Now is it famed. His name is Catiline.
CATILINE. [Taken aback.] What do you say? Oh, horrors! Furia, speak—!
FURIA. Calm yourself! What perturbs you? You grow pale. My Lucius,—is this man perhaps your friend?
CATILINE. My friend? Ah, Furia, no;—no longer now. For I have cursed,—and sworn eternal hate Against myself.
FURIA. You—you are Catiline?
CATILINE. Yes, I am he.
FURIA. My Sylvia you disgraced? Nemesis then indeed has heard my prayer;— Vengeance you have invoked on your own head! Woe on you, man of violence! Woe!
CATILINE. How blank The stare is in your eye. Like Sylvia's shade You seem to me in this dim candle light.
[He rushes out; the lamp with the sacred fire goes out.]
FURIA. [After a pause.] Yes, now I understand it. From my eyes The veil is fallen,—in the dark I see. Hatred it was that settled in my breast, When first I spied him in the market-place. A strange emotion; like a crimson flame! Ah, he shall know what such a hate as mine, Constantly brewing, never satisfied, Can fashion out in ruin and revenge!
A VESTAL. [Enters.] Go, Furia, go; your watch is at an end; Therefore I came—. Yet, sacred goddess, here— Woe unto you! The vestal fire is dead!
FURIA. [Bewildered.] Dead, did you say? So bright it never burned;— 'Twill never, never die!
THE VESTAL. Great heavens,—what is this?
FURIA. The fires of hate are not thus lightly quenched! Behold, love bursts forth of a sudden,—dies Within the hour; but hate—
THE VESTAL. By all the gods,— This is sheer madness!
THE VESTAL. Come! Oh, help! Come, help!
[VESTALS and temple SERVANTS rush in.]
SOME. What is amiss?
OTHERS. The vestal fire is dead!
FURIA. But hate burns on; revenge still blazes high!
THE VESTALS. Away with her to trial and punishment!
[They carry her out between them.]
CURIUS. [Comes forward.] To prison now they take her. Thence to death.— No, no, by all the gods, this shall not be! Must she, most glorious of womankind, Thus perish in disgrace, entombed alive?— Oh, never have I felt so strangely moved. Is this then love? Yes, love it is indeed.— Then shall I set her free!—But Catiline? With hate and vengeance will she follow him. Has he maligners not enough already? Dare I still others to their number add? He was to me as were an elder brother; And gratitude now bids me that I shield him.— But what of love? Ah, what does it command? And should he quake, the fearless Catiline, Before the intrigues of a woman? No;— Then to the rescue work this very hour! Wait, Furia;—I shall drag you from your grave To life again,—though at the risk of death!
[He goes away quickly.]
* * * * *
[A room in CATILINE's house.]
CATILINE. [Enters impetuous and uneasy.] "Nemesis then indeed has heard my prayer, Vengeance you have invoked on your own head!" Such were the words from the enchantress' lips. Remarkable! Perchance it was a sign,— A warning of what time will bring to me.
CATILINE. Now therefore I have pledged myself on oath The blood avenger of my own misdeed. Ah, Furia,—still I seem to see your eye, Wildly aflame like that of death's own goddess! Your words still echo hollow in my ears;— The oath I shall remember all my life.
[During the following AURELIA enters and approaches him unnoticed.]
CATILINE. Yet, it is folly now to go on brooding Upon this nonsense; it is nothing else. Far better things there are to think upon; A greater work awaits my energies. The restless age is urgent with its plea; Toward this I must direct my thought in season; Of hope and doubt I am a stormy sea—
AURELIA. [Seizes his hand.] And may not your Aurelia know the reason? May she not know what moves within your breast, What stirs therein and rages with such madness? May she not cheer and soothe your soul to rest, And banish from your brow its cloud of sadness?
CATILINE. [Tenderly.] O, my Aurelia,—O, how kind and tender—. Yet why should I embitter all your life? Why should I share with you my many sorrows? For my sake you have borne enough of anguish. Henceforth upon my own head I shall bear What ill-designing fate allotted me,— The curse that lies in such a soul as mine, Full of great spiritual energies, Of fervent longings for a life of deeds, Yet dwarfed in all its work by sordid cares.— Must you, too, sharing in my wretched life, Bitter with blasted hopes, then with me perish?
AURELIA. To comfort is the role of every wife, Though dreams of greatness she may never cherish. When the man, struggling for his lofty dream, Reaps nothing but adversity and sorrow,— Her words to him then sweet and tender seem, And give him strength sufficient for the morrow; And then he sees that even the quiet life Has pleasures which the most tumultuous lacks.
CATILINE. Yes, you are right; I know it all too well. And yet I cannot tear myself away. A ceaseless yearning surges in my breast,— Which only life's great tumult now can quiet.
AURELIA. Though your Aurelia be not all to you,— Though she can never still your restless soul,— Your heart yet open to a gentle word, A word of comfort from your loving wife. Though she may never slake your fiery thirst, Nor follow in their flight your noble thoughts,— Know this, that she can share your every sorrow, Has strength and fortitude to ease your burden.
CATILINE. Then listen, dear Aurelia; you shall hear What has of late depressed so deep my spirits. You know, I long have sought the consulate— Without avail. You know the whole affair— How to increase the votes for my election, I have expended—
AURELIA. Catiline, no more; You torture me—
CATILINE. Do you too blame my course? What better means therefor had I to choose?— In vain I lavished all that I possessed; My one reward was mockery and shame. Now in the senate has my adversary, The crafty Cicero, trampled me to earth. His speech was a portrayal of my life, So glaring that I, even I, must gasp. In every look I read dismay and fear; With loathing people speak of Catiline; To races yet unborn my name will be A symbol of a low and dreadful union Of sensuality and wretchedness, Of scorn and ridicule for what is noble.— And there will be no deed to purge this name And crush to earth the lies that have been told! Each will believe whatever rumor tells—
AURELIA. But I, dear husband, trust no such reports. Let the whole world condemn you if it will; And let it heap disgrace upon your head;— I know you hide within your inmost soul A seed that still can blossom and bear fruit. Only it cannot burst forth here in Rome; Poisonous weeds would quickly prove the stronger. Let us forsake this degradation's home;— What binds you here? Why should we dwell here longer?
CATILINE. I should forsake the field,—and go away? I should my greatest dreams in life surrender? The drowning man still clutches firm and fast The broken spars—though hope is frail and slender; And should the wreck be swallowed in the deep, And the last hope of rescue fail forever,— Still clings he to the lone remaining spar, And sinks with it in one last vain endeavor.
AURELIA. But should a kindly seacoast smile on him, With groves all green along the rolling billows, Hope then awakens in his heart again,— He struggles inward, toward the silvery willows. There reigns a quiet peace; 'tis beautiful; There roll the waves, in silence, without number; His heated brow sweet evening breezes cool, As weary-limbed he rests himself in slumber; Each sorrow-laden cloud they drive away; A restful calm his weary mind assuages;— There he finds shelter and prolongs his stay And soon forgets the sorry by-gone ages. The distant echo of the world's unrest Alone can reach his dwelling unfrequented. It does not break the calm within his breast;— It makes his soul more happy and contented; It calls to mind the by-gone time of strife, Its shattered hopes and its unbridled pleasures; He finds twice beautiful this quiet life— And would not change it for the greatest treasures.
CATILINE. You speak the truth; and in this very hour From strife and tumult I could go with you. But can you name me some such quiet spot, Where we can live in shelter and in peace?
AURELIA. [Joyful.] You will go, Catiline? What happiness,— Oh, richer than my bosom can contain! Let it be so, then! Come! This very night We'll go away—
CATILINE. But whither shall we go? Name me the spot where I may dare to rest My head in homely peace!
AURELIA. How can you ask? Have you forgot our villa in the country, Wherein I passed my childhood days, where since, Enraptured during love's first happy dawn, We two spent many a blithesome summer day? Where was the grass indeed so green as there? Where else the groves so shady and sweet-smelling? The snow-white villa from its wooded lair Peeps forth and bids us there to make our dwelling. There let us flee and dedicate our life To rural duties and to sweet contentment;— You will find comfort in a loving wife, And through her kisses banish all resentment.
AURELIA. And when with all the flowers of the land You come to me, your sovereign, in my bowers, Then shall I crown you with the laurel band, And cry, All hail to you, my king of flowers!— But why do you grow pale? Wildly you press My hand,—and strangely now your eyes are glowing—
CATILINE. Aurelia, alas, past is your happiness;— There we can never, never think of going. There we can never go!
AURELIA. You frighten me! Yet, surely,—you are jesting, Catiline?
CATILINE. I jest! Would only that it were a jest! Each word you speak, like the avenging dart Of Nemesis, pierces my heavy heart, Which fate will never grant a moment's rest.
AURELIA. O gods! speak, speak! What do you mean?
CATILINE. See here! Here is your villa,—here your future joys!
[He draws out a purse filled with gold and throws it on the table.]
AURELIA. Oh, you have sold—?
CATILINE. Yes,—all I sold today;— And to what end? In order to corrupt—
AURELIA. O Catiline, no more! Let us not think On this affair; sorrow is all it brings.
CATILINE. Your quiet-patience wounds me tenfold more Than would a cry of anguish from your lips!
[An old SOLDIER enters and approaches CATILINE.]
THE SOLDIER. Forgive me, master, that thus unannounced I enter your abode at this late hour. Ah, be not wroth—
CATILINE. What is your errand here?
THE SOLDIER. My errand here is but a humble prayer, Which you will hear. I am a needy man, One who has sacrificed his strength for Rome. Now I am feeble, can no longer serve; Unused my weapons rust away at home. The hope of my old age was in a son, Who labored hard and was my one support. Alas,—in prison now he's held for debt. And not a ray of hope—. Oh, help me, master!
THE SOLDIER. If but a penny! I have gone on foot From house to house; each door is long since closed. I know not what to do—
CATILINE. The paltry knaves! A picture this is of the many's want. Thus they reward the old brave company. No longer gratitude is found in Rome! Time was I might have wished in righteous wrath To punish them with sword and crimson flames; But tender words have just been spoken here; My soul is moved; I do not wish to punish;— To ease misfortune likewise is a deed.— Take this, old warrior;—clear with this your debt.
[He hands him the purse with the gold.]
THE SOLDIER. [Rising.] O gracious lord,—dare I believe your words?
CATILINE. Yes; but be quick, old man; go free your son.
[The SOLDIER goes hurriedly out.]
CATILINE. A better use,—not so, Aurelia dear?— Than bribery and purchasing of votes? Noble it is to crush the tyrant's might; Yet quiet solace too has its reward.
AURELIA. [Throws herself in his arms.] Oh, rich and noble is your spirit still. Yes,—now I know my Catiline again.
* * * * *
[An underground tomb with a freshly walled-in passage high on the rear wall. A lamp burns faintly.]
[FURIA, in long black robes, is standing in the tomb as if listening.]
FURIA. A hollow sound. 'Tis thunder rolls above. I hear its rumble even in the tomb. Yet is the tomb itself so still—so still! Am I forever damned to drowsy rest? Never again am I to wander forth By winding paths, as ever was my wish?
FURIA. [After a pause.] A strange, strange life it was;—as strange a fate. Meteor-like all came—and disappeared. He met me. A mysterious magic force, An inner harmony, together drew us. I was his Nemesis;—and he my victim;— Yet punishment soon followed the avenger.
FURIA. [Another pause.] Now daylight rules the earth.—Am I perchance To slip—unknowing—from the realm of light? 'Tis well, if so it be,—if this delay Within the tomb be nothing but a flight Upon the wings of lightning into Hades,— If I be nearing even now the Styx! There roll the leaden billows on the shore; There silently old Charon plies his boat. Soon am I there! Then shall I seat myself Beside the ferry,—question every spirit, Each fleeting shadow from the land of life, As light of foot he nears the river of death,— Shall ask each one in turn how Catiline Fares now among the mortals of the earth,— Shall ask each one how he has kept his oath. I shall illumine with blue sulphur light Each spectral countenance and hollow eye,— To ascertain if it be Catiline. And when he comes, then shall I follow him;— Together we shall make the journey hence, Together enter Pluto's silent hall. I too a shadow shall his shade pursue;— Where Catiline is, must Furia also be!
FURIA. [After a pause, more faintly.] The air is growing close and clammy here,— And every breath in turn more difficult.— Thus am I drawing near the gloomy swamps, Where creep the rivers of the underworld.
FURIA. [She listens; a dull noise is heard.] A muffled sound? 'Tis like the stroke of oars. It is the ferryman of shades who comes To take me hence. No, here—here will I wait!
[The stones in the freshly walled-in passage are broken asunder. CURIUS comes into view on the outside; he beckons to her.]
FURIA. Ah, greetings, Charon! Are you ready now To lead me hence, a guest among the spirits? Here will I wait!
CURIUS. [Whispering.] I come to set you free!
* * * * *
[A room in CATILINE's house with a colonnade in the rear; a lamp lights up the room.]
[CATILINE paces the floor back and forth; LENTULUS and CETHEGUS are with him.]
CATILINE. No, no! I say, you do not understand Yourselves what you demand of me. Should I Turn traitor and incite a civil war,— Besmear my hand with Roman blood? No, no! I'll never do it! Let the entire state Condemn me if—
LENTULUS. You will not, Catiline?
LENTULUS. Tell me,—have you nothing to avenge? No insult? No one here you fain would strike?
CATILINE. Let him who will avenge; I shall not stir. Yet silent scorn is likewise a revenge;— And that alone shall be enough.
CETHEGUS. Aha,— Our visit was, I see, inopportune. Yet doubtless will the morrow bring you back To other thoughts.
CATILINE. But why the morrow?
CETHEGUS. There are mysterious rumors in the air. A vestal recently was led to death—
CATILINE. [Surprised.] A vestal,—say you? Ah, what do you mean?
LENTULUS. Why, yes, a vestal. Many people murmur—
CATILINE. What do they murmur?
CETHEGUS. That in this dark affair You are not altogether innocent.
CATILINE. This they believe of me?
LENTULUS. Such is the rumor; Of course,—to us, to all your good old friends, Such talk is trifling and of no account;— The world, however, judges more severely.
CATILINE. [Deep in thought.] And is she dead?
CETHEGUS. Undoubtedly she is. An hour's confinement in the convict tomb Is quite enough—
LENTULUS. That is not our affair. It was not therefore that we spoke of her. But hear me, Catiline! Bethink yourself. You sought the consulate; and all your welfare Hung on that single fragile thread of hope. Now is it sundered; everything is lost.
CATILINE. [Still deep in thought.] "Vengeance you have invoked on your own head!"
CETHEGUS. Shake off these useless thoughts; they profit naught; Act like a man; still can this fight be won; A bold resolve now—; you have friends enough; Speak but the word, and we shall follow you.— You are not tempted? Answer!
CATILINE. No, I say! And why are you so eager to conspire? Be honest! Are you driven by thirst for freedom? Is it in order to renew Rome's splendor That you would ruin all?
LENTULUS. Indeed, 'tis not; Yet surely is the hope of personal greatness Sufficient motive for our enterprise!
CETHEGUS. And means enough to taste the joys of life Are not, in truth, to be so lightly scorned. That is my motive;—I am not ambitious.
CATILINE. I knew it. Only mean and paltry motives, The hope of private vantage, urge you on. No, no, my friends; I aimed at nobler things! True, I have sought with bribes and promises To seize ere now the consulate, and yet My plan was greater and comprised much more Than means like these would point to. Civic freedom, The welfare of the state,—these were my aims. Men have misjudged, appearances belied me; My fate has willed it so. It must so be!
CETHEGUS. True; but the thought of all your many friends Whom you can save from ruin and disgrace—? You know, we shall ere long be driven to take The beggars' staff because of our wild living.
CATILINE. Then stop in season; that is my resolve.
LENTULUS. What, Catiline,—now you intend to change Your mode of life? Ha, ha! you surely jest?
CATILINE. I am in earnest,—by the mighty gods!
CETHEGUS. Then there is nothing we can do with him. Come, Lentulus, the others we'll inform What answer he has given. We shall find The merry company with Bibulus.
CATILINE. With Bibulus? How many a merry night We have caroused at Bibulus' table! Now is the tempest of my wild life ended; Ere dawns the day I shall have left the city.
LENTULUS. What is all this?
CETHEGUS. You mean to go away?
CATILINE. This very night my wife and I together Shall bid farewell to Rome forevermore. In quiet Gaul we two shall found a home;— The land I cultivate shall nourish us.
CETHEGUS. You will forsake the city, Catiline?
CATILINE. I will; I must! Disgrace here weighs me down. Courage I have to bear my poverty, But in each Roman face to read disdain And frank contempt—! No, no; that is too much! In Gaul I'll live in quiet solitude; There shall I soon forget my former self, Dull all my longings for the greater things, And as the vaguest dream recall the past.
LENTULUS. Then fare you well; may fortune follow you!
CETHEGUS. Remember us with kindness, Catiline, As we shall you remember! To our brothers We will relate this new and strange resolve.
CATILINE. Then give them all a brother's hearty greeting!
[LENTULUS and CETHEGUS leave.]
[AURELIA has entered from the side, hut-stops frightened at the sight of those who are leaving; when they are gone she approaches CATILINE.]
AURELIA. [Gently reprimanding.] Again these stormy comrades in your house? O Catiline—!
CATILINE. This was their final visit. I bade them all farewell. Now every bond Forevermore is broken that bound me fast And fettered me to Rome.
AURELIA. I've gathered up Our bit of property. Not much perhaps;— Yet, Catiline, enough for our contentment.
CATILINE. [Engrossed in thought.] More than enough for me who squandered all.
AURELIA. Oh, brood no more on things we can not change;— Forget what—
CATILINE. Happy he who could forget,— Who could the memory tear from out his soul, The many hopes, the goal of all desires. Ah, time is needed ere I reach that state; But I shall struggle—
AURELIA. I shall help you strive; You shall be comforted for all your loss. Yet we must leave as soon as possible. Here life calls to you with a tempter's voice. Is it not so,—we go this very night?
CATILINE. Yes, yes,—we leave this very night, Aurelia!
AURELIA. The little money left I've gathered up; And for the journey it will be enough.
CATILINE. Good! I shall sell my sword and buy a spade. What value henceforth is a sword to me?
AURELIA. You clear the land, and I shall till the soil. Around our home will grow in floral splendor A hedge of roses, sweet forget-me-nots, The silent tokens of a chastened soul, When as some youthful comrade you can greet Each memory recurrent of the past.
CATILINE. That time, Aurelia? Ah, beloved, I fear— That hour lies in a distant future's keeping.
CATILINE. [In a milder tone.] But go, dear wife, and, while you may, repose. Soon after midnight we shall start our journey. The city then is lapped in deepest slumber, And none shall guess our hidden destination. The first glow in the morning sky shall find us Far—far away; there in the laurel grove We'll rest ourselves upon the velvet grass.
AURELIA. A new life opens up before us both— Richer in happiness than this that's ended. Now will I go. An hour's quiet rest Will give me strength—. Good-night, my Catiline!
[She embraces him and goes out.]
CATILINE. [Gazes after her.] Now is she gone! And I—what a relief! Now can I cast away this wearisome Hypocrisy, this show of cheerfulness, Which least of all is found within my heart. She is my better spirit. She would grieve Were she to sense my doubt. I must dissemble. Yet shall I consecrate this silent hour To contemplation of my wasted life.— This lamp,—ah, it disturbs my very thoughts;— Dark it must be here,—dark as is my soul!
[He puts out the light; the moon shines through the pillars in the rear.]
CATILINE. Too light,—yes, still too light! And yet, no matter;— The pallid moonlight here does well befit The twilight and the gloom that shroud my soul,— Have ever shrouded all my earthly ways.
CATILINE. Hm, Catiline, then is this day your last; Tomorrow morning you will be no longer The Catiline you hitherto have been. Distant in barren Gaul my life shall run Its course, unknown as is a forest stream.— Now am I wakened from those many visions Of power, of greatness, of a life of deeds;— They vanished like the dew; in my dark soul They struggled long and died,—unseen of men.
CATILINE. Ah, it is not this dull and drowsy life, Far from all mundane tumult, that affrights me. If only for a moment I could shine, And blaze in splendor like a shooting star,— If only by a glorious deed I could Immortalize the name of Catiline With everlasting glory and renown,— Then gladly should I, in the hour of triumph, Forsake all things,—flee to a foreign strand;— I'd plunge the dagger in my exiled heart, Die free and happy; for I should have lived!
CATILINE. But oh,—to die without first having lived. Can that be possible? Shall I so die?
[With uplifted hands.]
CATILINE. A hint, oh angry powers,—that it is My fate to disappear from life forgotten, Without a trace!
FURIA. [Outside behind the pillars.] It is not, Catiline!
CATILINE. [Taken aback.] Who speaks? What warning voice is this I hear? A spirit voice from out the underworld!
FURIA. [Comes forward in the moonlight.] I am your shadow.
CATILINE. [Terrified.] What,—the vestal's ghost!
FURIA. Deep must your soul have sunk if you recoil From me!
CATILINE. Speak! Have you risen from the grave With hatred and with vengeance to pursue me?
FURIA. Pursue you,—did you say? I am your shadow. I must be with you wheresoe'er you go.
[She comes nearer.]
CATILINE. She lives! O gods,—then it is she,—no other, No disembodied ghost.
FURIA. Or ghost or not,— It matters little; I must follow you.
CATILINE. With mortal hate!
FURIA. Hate ceases in the grave, As love and all the passions do that flourish Within an earthly soul. One thing alone In life and death remains unchangeable.
CATILINE. And what? Say forth!
FURIA. Your fate, my Catiline!
CATILINE. Only the gods of wisdom know my fate,— No human being.
FURIA. Yet I know your fate. I am your shadow;—strange, mysterious ties Bind us together.
CATILINE. Bonds of hatred.
FURIA. No! Rose ever spirit from the dankest grave For hate and vengeance? Listen, Catiline! The rivers of the underworld have quenched Each earthly flame that raged within my breast. As you behold me here, I am no longer The stormy Furia,—wild and passionate,— Whom once you loved—
CATILINE. You do not hate me then?
FURIA. Ah, now no more. When in the tomb I stood,— And faltered on the path that separates This life from death, at any moment ready To greet the underworld,—lo, seized me then An eerie shuddering; I know not what—; 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, Joyful and airy, Body and soul.
Thou above all the Glittering bubbles, Sparkling Falernian, Glorious drink! Courage and power, These are your dower. Gladsome the gift you Bring to the soul.
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.
[LENTULUS and CETHEGUS enter.]
LENTULUS. Cease all your song and merriment!
STATILIUS. What now? Is Catiline not in your company?
GABINIUS. Surely he was quite willing?
COEPARIUS. Come, say forth! What was his answer?
CETHEGUS. Ah, quite otherwise Than we expected was his answer.
LENTULUS. Well, all of our proposals he declined;— He would not even hearken to our counsels.
STATILIUS. Is this the truth?
COEPARIUS. And wherefore would he not?
LENTULUS. In short, he will not. He forsakes his friends,— Abandons us,—and leaves the city.
STATILIUS. What? He leaves, you say?
CETHEGUS. 'Tis true;—he goes away This very night. Yet,—blamed he can not be; His ground was valid—
LENTULUS. Fear was his excuse! In danger he forsakes us faithlessly.
GABINIUS. That is the friendship of our Catiline!
COEPARIUS. Never was Catiline faithless or afraid!
LENTULUS. And yet he leaves us now.
STATILIUS. Our hopes go with him. Where's now the man to take the leadership?
COEPARIUS. He'll not be found; our plan we must forego.
LENTULUS. Not yet, not yet, my friends! First you shall hear What I will say. Now what have we resolved? That we should win at last by force of arms What an unrighteous destiny denied. Tyrants oppress us;—yet we wish to rule. We suffer want;—yet wealth is our desire.
MANY VOICES. Yes, wealth and power! Wealth and power we want!
LENTULUS. Yes, yes; we chose a comrade as our chief, On whom there was no doubt we could rely. Our trust he fails and turns his back to danger. Ah, brothers,—be not daunted. He shall learn We can succeed without him. What we need Is some one man, fearless and resolute, To take the lead—
SOME. Well, name us such a man!
LENTULUS. And should I name him, and should he comeforth,— Will you then straightway choose him as your leader?
SOME. Yes, we will choose him!
OTHERS. Yes, we will, we will!
STATILIUS. Then name him, friend!
LENTULUS. Suppose it were myself?
COEPARIUS. You, Lentulus—!
SEVERAL. [In doubt.] You wish to lead us?
LENTULUS. I do.
CETHEGUS. But can you? Such a task requires The strength and courage of a Catiline.
LENTULUS. I do not lack the courage, nor the strength. Each to his task! Or will you now turn back, Now when the moment seems most opportune? 'Tis now or never! All things prophesy Success for us—
STATILIUS. Good;—we will follow you!
OTHERS. We'll follow you!
GABINIUS. Well, now that Catiline Forsakes our cause, you are no doubt the man To lead us in our enterprise.
LENTULUS. Then hear What plan of action I have outlined. First—
[CATILINE enters hastily.]
CATILINE. Here, comrades, here I am!
LENTULUS. He? Oh, damned—
CATILINE. Speak out,—what do you ask of me? Yet stay; I know already what it is. I'll lead you on. Say—will you follow me?
ALL (EXCEPT LENTULUS). Yes, Catiline,—we follow if you lead!
STATILIUS. They have deceived us—
GABINIUS. —and belied your name!
COEPARIUS. They said you did intend to leave the city And wash your hands completely of our cause.
CATILINE. Yes, so I did. Yet now no more; henceforth Only for this great purpose do I live.
LENTULUS. What is this mighty purpose you proclaim?
CATILINE. My purpose here is higher than you think— Perhaps than any thinks. Ah, hear me, friends! First will I win to us each citizen Who prizes liberty and values most The public honor and his country's weal. The spirit of ancient Rome is yet alive;— The last faint spark is not yet wholly dead. Now into brilliant flames it shall be fanned, More glorious than ever flames before! Alas, too long the stifling gloom of thraldom, Dark as the night, lay blanketed on Rome. Behold,—this realm—though proud and powerful It seems—totters upon the edge of doom. Therefore the stoutest hand must seize the helm. Rome must be cleansed,—cleansed to the very roots; The sluggish we must waken from their slumber,— And crush to earth the power of these wretches Who sow their poison in the mind and stifle The slightest promise of a better life. Look you,—'tis civic freedom I would further,— The civic spirit that in former times Was regnant here. Friends, I shall conjure back The golden age, when Romans gladly gave Their lives to guard the honor of the nation, And all their riches for the public weal!
LENTULUS. Ah, Catiline, you rave! Nothing of this Had we in mind.
GABINIUS. What will it profit us To conjure up again those ancient days With all their dull simplicity?
SOME. No, no! Might we demand—
OTHERS. —and means enough to live A gay and carefree life!
MANY VOICES. That is our aim!
COEPARIUS. Is it for others' happiness and freedom We stake our lives upon a throw of dice?
THE WHOLE GROUP. We want the spoils of victory!
CATILINE. Paltry race! Are you the offspring of those ancient fathers? To heap dishonor on your country's name,— In such a way you would preserve its lustre!
LENTULUS. And you dare taunt us,—you who long since were A terrifying token—
CATILINE. True, I was; I was a terror to the good; and yet, So paltry as you are was never I.
LENTULUS. Restrain your tongue; we brook no ridicule.
MANY. No, no,—we will not—
CATILINE. [Calmly.] So? You timid brood,— You dare to think of doing something,—you?
LENTULUS. Ah, down with him!
MANY VOICES. Yes, down with Catiline!
[They draw their daggers and rush in on him; CATILINE calmly removes the cloak from his breast and regards them with a cold, scornful smile; they lower their daggers.]
CATILINE. Thrust! Thrust! You dare not? Oh, my friends, my friends,— I should respect you, if you plunged your daggers In this uncovered bosom, as you threaten. Is there no spark of courage in your souls?
SOME. He means our weal!
OTHERS. His taunts we have deserved.
CATILINE. You have, indeed.—Yet, see,—the hour is come When you can wash away the blot of shame. All that is of the past we will forget;— A new existence is in store for us.
CATILINE. [With bitterness.] Fool that I am! To stake success on you! Burns any zeal within this craven mob?
CATILINE. [Carried away.] Time was my dreams were glorious; great visions Rushed through my mind or swept before my gaze. I dreamed that, winged like Icarus of old, I flew aloft beneath the vault of heaven; I dreamed the gods endued my hands with strength Of giants, offered me the lightning flash. And this hand seized the lightning in its flight And hurled it at the city far beneath. And when the crimson flames lapped all, and rose As Rome fell crumbling in a heap of ruins,— Then called I with a loud and mighty voice, And conjured Cato's comrades from the grave; Thousands of spirits heard my call and came,— Took life again—raised Rome from out her ashes.
[He breaks off.]
CATILINE. These were but dreams! Gods do not conjure up The by-gone past into the light of day,— And parted spirits never leave the grave.
CATILINE. [Wildly.] Is now this hand unable to restore The ancient Rome, our Rome it shall destroy. Where marble colonnades now towering stand, Pillars of smoke through crackling flames shall whirl; Then shall the Capitol crumble from its heights, And palaces and temples sink to ruin!
CATILINE. Swear, comrades, that you dedicate your lives To this great purpose! I shall take the lead. Say,—will you follow me?
STATILIUS. We'll follow you!
[Several seem to be in doubt, and speak in whispers to one another. CATILINE regards them with a scornful smile.]
LENTULUS. [In an undertone.] 'Tis best we follow him. In sunken ruins We're likeliest to realize our goal.
ALL. [Shouting.] Yes, Catiline; we'll all—all follow you!
CATILINE. Swear to me by the gods of our great sires That you will heed my every nod!
THE WHOLE GROUP. [With uplifted hands.] Yes, yes; We swear in all things blindly to obey!
CATILINE. Then singly steal your way, by different paths, Into my house. Weapons you there will find. I shall come later; you shall then discover What plan of action I propose. Now go!
[They all go out.]
LENTULUS. [Detains CATILINE.] A word! Know you the Allobrogian tribes Have to the Senate sent ambassadors With grievances and charges?
CATILINE. Yes, I know. They came today into the city.
LENTULUS. Good. What if we should attune them to our plans? With them all Gaul will rise up in revolt; And stir up strife against our enemies.
CATILINE. [Reluctant.] Ah, we should seek barbarian allies?
LENTULUS. But such a league is a necessity. With our own strength alone the fight is lost; Help from without—
CATILINE. [With a bitter smile.] Ah, Rome is fallen low! Her walls no longer harbor men with strength Enough to overthrow a tottering ruin!
[They go out.]
* * * * *
[A garden to the rear of CATILINE's house, which is visible through the trees. To the left a side-building.]
[CURIUS, CETHEGUS, and OTHER CONSPIRATORS enter cautiously from the right in whispered conversation.]
CURIUS. But is it really true what you relate?
CETHEGUS. Yes, every word is true. A moment since It was decided.
CURIUS. He takes charge of all?
CETHEGUS. Of everything. Just speak with him yourself.
[All, except CURIUS, enter the house.]
CURIUS. An eerie night! How all my thoughts are tossed About in circles! Did I dream perchance? Ah, real or fancied,—now I am awake,— Whichever way I turn I see her form.
[CATILINE enters from the right.]
CATILINE. [Goes toward him.] You here, my Curius? I have missed you much.— My visit with the vestal took a turn Quite unexpected—
CURIUS. [Confused.] So? Yes, you are right!
CATILINE. I shall no longer think of this affair. It was a visit fraught with fate for me.
CATILINE. [Meditating.] The furies, we are told, return at times From the dark underworld to follow us Through life forever.—Ah, if it were so!
CURIUS. [Uneasy.] What? Have you seen her—?
CATILINE. She was here tonight.— Yet let this be forgotten. Curius, listen,— A weighty undertaking is on foot—
CURIUS. I know it all. Cethegus told me here—
CATILINE. Who knows what issue for this work the gods Have set? Perchance it is my destiny To perish now, crushed by malignant forces,— And never reach my goal. Well, be it so! But you, dear Curius, you whom I have loved Since childhood,—you shall not be drawn within This fateful maelstrom. Promise me,—remain Within the city if I elsewhere choose To open my attack,—which is quite likely; Nor aid us till success has crowned our work.
CURIUS. [Moved.] Oh, what a friend and father! All this care—!
CATILINE. You promise this? Then here we say farewell; Wait but a moment; I shall soon return.
[He goes into the house.]
CURIUS. [Gazing after him.] He loves me still. Of naught is he distrustful.
[LENTULUS and OTHER CONSPIRATORS enter from the right.]
LENTULUS. Ah, Curius, did not Catiline just now Pass through the garden?
CURIUS. Yes, he is within.
[They go into the house.]
CURIUS. [Paces about uneasy.] How shall I curb this longing in my soul? There is a restless turmoil in my blood. Ah, Furia,—what a strange, mysterious woman! Where are you? When shall I see your face again?
CURIUS. Where has she fled? Ah, shadow-like she slipped Away, when I had freed her from the grave. And those mysterious, prophetic words,— And more, her eyes, gleaming at once and dimmed—! What if it were but madness? Has the grave With all its terror darkened—?
FURIA. [Behind him among the trees.] No, pale youth!
CURIUS. [With a cry.] My Furia! You—?
FURIA. [Comes nearer.] Here dwells Catiline. Where he is,—there must Furia also be.
CURIUS. Oh, come with me, beloved. I shall lead You into safety. Think—if some one saw you!
FURIA. The dead need have no fear. Have you forgotten— You took my corpse and brought it from the grave?
CURIUS. Again those terrifying words! Oh, hear me;— Come to your senses,—come with me away!
[He tries to seize her hand.]
FURIA. [Thrusts him wildly back.] You reckless fool,—do you not shrink with fear Before this child of death, but risen up A fleeting moment from the underworld?
CURIUS. Before you now I fear. And yet this fear, This strange, mysterious dread, is my delight.
FURIA. What would you me? In vain is all your pleading. I'm of the grave, and yonder is my home;— With dawn's approach I must again be speeding Back to the vale of shadows whence I come. You doubt me,—do not think that I have sat Among the pallid shades in Pluto's hall? I tell you, I was even now below,— Beyond the river and the gloomy marshes.
CURIUS. Then lead me there!
CURIUS. I shall gladly follow, Though you should lead me through the jaws of death!
FURIA. It cannot be! On earth we two must part;— Yonder the dead and living dare not meet.—
FURIA. Why do you rob me of my fleeting moments? I've but the hours of night in which to work; My task is of the night; I am its herald. But where is Catiline?
CURIUS. Ah, him you seek?
FURIA. Yes, him I seek.
CURIUS. Then him you still pursue?
FURIA. Why rose I from the spirit underworld Tonight, if not because of Catiline?
CURIUS. Alas, this fury that has seized your soul—! Yet you are lovely even in your madness. Oh, Furia, think no more of Catiline! Come, flee with me! Command me,—I shall serve you!
[He prostrates himself before her.]
CURIUS. A prostrate slave I here entreat of you One single look. Oh, hear me, Furia, hear me! I love but you! A sweet and lethal fire Consumes my soul, and you—ah, you alone— Can ease my suffering.—
FURIA. [Looks towards the house.] Yonder there's a light— And many men. What now is going on Within the house of Catiline?
CURIUS. [Jumps up.] Again This name! Around him hover all your thoughts. Oh, I could hate him—!
FURIA. Has he then resolved To launch at last the daring enterprise He long has cherished?
CURIUS. Then you know—?
FURIA. Yes, all.
CURIUS. Ah, then you doubtless know, too, he himself Is foremost in this daring enterprise? Yet, I adjure you, beg you, think no more Of Catiline!
FURIA. Answer me this alone; 'Tis all I ask of you. Do you go with him?
CURIUS. He is to me a tender father—
FURIA. [Smiling.] He? My Catiline?
FURIA. He,—round whom my thoughts Course without rest?
CURIUS. My brain is in a tumult— I hate this man—! Oh, I could murder him!
FURIA. Did you not lately swear you were prepared To do my bidding?
CURIUS. Ask me what you will; In everything I serve you and obey! I only beg,—forget this Catiline.
FURIA. I shall forget him first—when he has stepped Into his grave.
CURIUS. [Draws back.] Ah, you demand that I—?
FURIA. You need not use the steel; you can betray His enterprise—
CURIUS. Murder and treachery At once! Remember, Furia, he is still My foster-father and—
FURIA. —My aim in life! Ah, timid fool,—so you dare speak of love,— Who lack the fortitude to strike him down That stands across your path? Away from me!
[She turns her back on him.]
CURIUS. [Holding her back.] No;—do not leave me! I am in all things willing! A shudder chills me as I look on you; And yet I cannot break this net asunder Wherein you trapped my soul.
FURIA. Then you are willing?
CURIUS. Why do you mock me with such questioning? If I am willing? Have I any will? Your gaze is like the serpent's when 'tis fixed With magic power upon the bird, that circles Wildly about in terror-stricken awe, Drawn ever nearer to the dreadful fangs.
FURIA. Then to your task!
CURIUS. And when I've sacrificed My friendship to my love for you,—what then?
FURIA. I shall forget that Catiline existed. Then will my task be ended. Ask no more!
CURIUS. For this reward I should—?
FURIA. You hesitate? Is then your hope so faint that you forget What gifts a grateful woman can bestow, When first the time—?
CURIUS. By all the powers of night,— I'll not delay! He only stands between us. Then let him perish! Quenched is every spark Of feeling for him; every bond is sundered!— Who are you, lovely vision of the night? Near you I'm turned to marble, burned to ashes. My longing chills me,—terror fires the soul; My love is blended hate and sorcery. Who am I now? I know myself no more; One thing I know; I am not he I was, Ere you I saw. I'll plunge into the deep To follow you! Doomed—doomed is Catiline! I'll to the Capitol. This very night The senate is assembled. Then farewell! A written note betrays his enterprise.
[He goes out hastily.]
FURIA. [To herself.] The heavens grow dark; soon will the lightning play. The end is fast approaching, Catiline;— With measured steps you journey to your grave!
[The Allobrogian ambassadors, AMBIORIX and OLLOVICO, come out of the house without noticing FURIA, who stands half concealed in the shade between the trees.]
AMBIORIX. So then it is decided! Venturesome It was to enter into such a compact.
OLLOVICO. True; Yet their refusal of each righteous claim Opens no other way to liberty. The prize of victory,—should our friends succeed,— Outweighs indeed the perils of the conflict That now awaits us.
AMBIORIX. Brother, so it is!
OLLOVICO. Emancipation from the rule of Rome,— Freedom long lost is surely worth a struggle.
AMBIORIX. Now we must hasten homeward with all speed, Kindling through Gaul the flames of insurrection. It will be easy to persuade the tribes To 'rise up in revolt; they'll follow us And join the partisans of Catiline.
OLLOVICO. Hard will the fight be; mighty still is Rome.
AMBIORIX. It must be risked. Come, Ollovico, come!
FURIA. [Calls warningly to them.] Woe unto you!
AMBIORIX. [Startled.] By all the gods!
OLLOVICO. [Terrified.] Ah, hear! A voice cries warning to us in the dark!
FURIA. Woe to your people!
OLLOVICO. Yonder stands she, brother,— The pale and ill-foreboding shadow. See!
FURIA. Woe unto all who follow Catiline!
AMBIORIX. Home, home! Away! We'll break all promises!
OLLOVICO. A voice has warned us, and we shall obey.
[They go out hurriedly to the right.]
[CATILINE comes out of the house in the background.]
CATILINE. Ah, desperate hope—to think of crushing Rome With such a host of cowards and poltroons! What spurs them on? With frankness they confess— Their only motive is their want and greed. Is it then worth the trouble for such aims To shed men's blood? And what have I to win? What can I gain?
FURIA. [Invisible among the trees.] Revenge, my Catiline!
CATILINE. [Startled.] Who speaks! Who wakes the spirit of revenge From slumber? Came this voice then from the deep Within my soul? Revenge? Yes, that's the word,— My watch-word and my battle-cry. Revenge! Revenge for all the hopes and all the dreams Which ever a vindictive fate destroyed! Revenge for all my years of wasted life!
[The CONSPIRATORS come armed out of the house.]
LENTULUS. Still rest the shades of darkness on the city. Now is it time to break away.
SEVERAL. [Whispering.] Away!
[AURELIA comes out of the side-building without noticing the CONSPIRATORS.]
AURELIA. Beloved,—are you here?
CATILINE. [With a cry.] Aurelia!
AURELIA. Say,— Have you been waiting for me?
[She becomes aware of the Conspirators and rushes to him.]
AURELIA. Gracious gods!
CATILINE. [Thrusts her aside.] Woman, away from me!
AURELIA. Speak, Catiline! These many men in arms—? And you as well—? Oh, you will go—
CATILINE. [Wildly.] Yes, by the spirits of night,— A merry journey! See—this flashing sword! It thirsts for blood! I go—to quench its thirst.
AURELIA. My hope,—my dream! Ah, blissful was my dream! Thus am I wakened from my dreaming—
CATILINE. Silence! Stay here,—or follow! But my heart is cold To tears and lamentations.—Friends, behold How bright the full moon in the west declines! When next that full moon in its orient shines, An avalanche of fire shall sweep the state And all its golden glory terminate. A thousand years from now, when it shall light Mere crumbling ruins in the desert night,— One pillar in the dust of yonder dome Shall tell the weary wanderer: Here stood Rome!
[He rushes out to the right; all follow him.]
* * * * *
[CATILINE's camp in a wooded field in Etruria. To the right is seen CATILINE's tent and close by it an old oak tree. A camp fire is burning outside the tent; similar fires are to be seen among the trees in the background. It is night. At intervals the moon breaks through the clouds.]
[STATILIUS lies stretched out asleep by the camp fire. MANLIUS paces back and forth in front of the tent.]
MANLIUS. Such is the way of young and buoyant souls. They slumber on as peaceful and secure As though embosomed in their mothers' arms, Instead of in a forest wilderness. They rest as though they dream some merry game Were held in store for them when they awake, Instead of battle,—the last one, perchance, That will be theirs to fight.
STATILIUS. [Awakes and rises.] Still standing guard? You must be weary? I'll relieve you now.
MANLIUS. Go rest yourself instead. Youth needs his sleep; His untamed passions tax his native strength. 'Tis otherwise when once the hair turns gray, When in our veins the blood flows lazily, And age weighs heavily upon our shoulders.
STATILIUS. Yes, you are right. Thus I too shall in time, An old and hardened warrior—
MANLIUS. Are you sure The fates decreed you such a destiny?
STATILIUS. And pray, why not? Why all these apprehensions? Has some misfortune chanced?
MANLIUS. You think no doubt That we have naught to fear, foolhardy youth?
STATILIUS. Our troops are strongly reenforced—
MANLIUS. Indeed,— With fugitive slaves and gladiators—
STATILIUS. Well,— Grant that they are; together they may prove No little aid, and all the tribes of Gaul Will send us help—
MANLIUS. —Which has not yet arrived.
STATILIUS. You doubt that the Allobroges will keep Their promised word?
MANLIUS. I know these people well From days gone by. However, let that pass. The day that dawns will doubtless bring to light What destinies the gods have set for us.
MANLIUS. But go the rounds, my friend, and ascertain If all the guards perform their proper tasks. For we must fend against a night attack; We know not where the enemy makes his stand.
[STATILIUS goes into the forest.]
MANLIUS. [Alone by the camp fire.] The clouds begin to gather thick and fast; It is a dark and storm-presaging night;— A misty fog hangs heavy on my breast, As though foreboding mishap to us all. Where is it now, that easy carefree spirit With which in former times I went to war? Ah, can it be the weight of years alone That now I feel? Strange—strange, indeed,—last night Even the young seemed sorely out of heart.