The Cup

Act I

Scene III

Alfred Tennyson

Same as Scene I.


Music and Singing in the Temple.

Enter SYNORIX watchfully, after him PUBLIUS and SOLDIERS.



                        Do you remember what I told you?

When you cry ‘Rome, Rome,’ to seize
On whomsoever may be talking with you,
Or man, or woman, as traitors unto Rome.

Right. Back again. How many of you are there?

Some halt a score.

[Exeunt Soldiers and Publius.

                        I have my guard about me.
I need not fear the crowd that hunted me
Across the woods, last night. I hardly gain’d
The camp at midnight. Will she come to me
Now that she knows me Synorix? Not if Sinnatus
Has told her all the truth about me. Well,
I cannot help the mould that I was cast in.
I fling all that upon my fate, my star.
I know that I am genial, I would be
Happy, and make all others happy so
They did not thwart me. Nay, she will not cone.
Yet if she be a true and loving wife
She may, perchance, to save this husband. Ay!
See, see, my white bird stepping toward the snare.
Why now I count it all but miracle,
That this brave heart of mine should shake me so,
As helplessly as some unbearded boy’s
When first he meets his maiden in a bower.

[Enter CAMMA (with cup).

The lark first takes the sunlight on his wing,
Put you, twin sister of the morning star,
Forelead the sun.

                Where is Antonius?

Not here as yet. You are too early for him.

[She crosses towards Temple.

Nay, whither go you now?

                        To lodge this cup
Within the holy shrine of Artemis,
And so return.

            To find Antonius here.

[She goes into the Temple, he looks after her.
The loveliest life that ever drew the light
Front heaven to brood upon her, and enrich
Earth with her shadow! I trust she will return.
These Romans dare not violate the Temple.
No, I must lure my game into the camp.
A woman I could live and die for. What!
Die for a woman, what new faith is this?
I am not mad, not sick, not old enough
To doat on one alone. Yes, mad for her,
Camma the stately, Camma the great-hearted,
So mad, I fear some strange and evil chance
Coming upon me, for by the Gods I seem
Strange to myself.

Re-enter CAMMA.

                Where is Antonius?

Where? As I said before, you are still too early.

Too early to be here alone with thee;
For whether men malign thy name, or no,
It bears an evil savour among women.
Where is Antonius?        (Loud.)

                Madam, as you know
The camp is half a league without the city;
If you will walk with me we needs must meet
Antonius coming, or at least shall find him
There in the camp.

No, not one step with thee.
Where is Antonius? (Louder.)

    SYNORIX (advancing towards her).
                Then for your own sake,
Lady, I say it with all gentleness,
And for the sake of Sinnatus your husband,
I must compel you.

    CAMMA (drawing her dagger).
Stay!—too near is death.

    SYNORIX (disarming her).
Is it not easy to disarm a woman?

Enter SINNATUS (seizes him from behind by the throat).

    SYNORIX (throttled and scarce audible).
Rome! Rome!

                        Adulterous dog!

    SYNORIX (stabbing, him with Camma’s dagger).
What! will you have it?

[CAMMA utters a cry and runs to SINNATUS.

    SINNATUS (falls backward).
I have it in my heart—to the Temple—fly-
For my sake—or they seize on thee. Remember
Away-farewell!        [Dies.

GAMMA (runs up the steps alto the Temple, looking back).

    SYNORIX (seeing her escape).
The women of the Temple drag her in.
Publius! Publius! No,
Antonius would not suffer me to break
Into the sanctuary. She hath escaped.

[Looking down at SINNATUS.
‘Adulterous dog!’ that red-faced rage at me!
Then with one quick short stab-eternal peace.
So end all passions. Then what use in passions?
To warm the cold bounds of our dying life
And, lest we freeze in mortal apathy,
Employ us, heat us, quicken us, help us, keep us
From seeing all too near that urn, those ashes
Which all must be. Well used, they serve us well.
I heard a saying in Egypt, that ambition
Is like the sea wave, which the more you drink,
The more you thirst—yea—drink too much, as men
Have done on rafts of wreck—it drives you mad.
I will be no such wreck, am no such gamester
As, having won the stake, would dare the chance
Of double, or losing all. The Roman Senate,
For I have always play’d into their hands,
Means me the crown. And Camma for my bride—
The people love her—if I win her love,
They too will cleave to me, as one with her.
There then I rest, Rome’s tributary king.
[Looking down on SINNATUS.
Why did I strike him?—having proof enough
Against the man, I surely should have left
That stroke to Rome. He saved my life too. Did he?
It seem’d so. I have playd the sudden fool.
And that sets her against me—for the moment.
Camma—well, well, I never found the woman
I could not force or wheedle to my will.
She will be glad at last to wear my crown.
And I will make Galatia prosperous too,
And we will chirp among our vines, and smile
At bygone things till that (pointing to SINNATUS) eternal peace.
Rome! Rome!
Twice I cried Rome. Why came ye not before?

Why come we now? Whom shall we seize upon?

    SYNORIX (pointing to the body of Sinnatus).
The body of that dead traitor Sinnatus.
Bear him away.

Music and Singing in Temple.

The Cup - Contents    |     Act II - Scene I

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