The Cup

Act II

Scene I

Alfred Tennyson

Interior of the Temple of Artemis.

Small gold gates on platform in front of the veil before the colossal statue of the Goddess, and in the centre of the Temple a tripod altar, on which is a lighted lamp. Lamps (lighted) suspended between each pillar. Tripods, vases, garlands of flowers, etc., about stage. Altar at back close to Goddess, with two cups. Solemn, music. Priestesses decorating the Temple.

(The Chorus of PRIESTESSES sing as they enter.)

Artemis, Artemis, hear us, O Mother, hear us, and bless us!
Artemis, thou that art life to the wind, to the wave, to the glebe, to the fire
Hear thy people who praise thee! O help us from all that oppress us!
Hear thy priestesses hymn thy glory! O yield them all their desire!

Phœbe, that man from Synorix, who has been
So oft to see the Priestess, waits once more
Before the Temple.

                We will let her know.

[Signs to one of the Priestesses, who goes out.
Since Camma fled from Synorix to our Temple,
And for her beauty, stateliness, and power,
Was chosen Priestess here, have you not mark’d
Her eyes were ever on the marble floor?
To-day they are fixt and bright—they look straight out.
Hath she made up her mind to marry him?

To marry him who stabb’d her Sinnatus.
You will not easily make me credit that.

Ask her.

Enter CAMMA as Priestess (in front of the curtains).

You will not marry Synorix?

My girl, I am the bride of Death, and only
Marry the dead.

                Not Synorix then?

                                        My girl,
At times this oracle of great Artemis
Has no more power than other oracles
To speak directly.

                Will you speak to him,
The messenger from Synorix who waits
Before the Temple?

Why not? Let him enter.

[Comes forward on to step by tripod.


    MESSENGER (kneels).
Greeting and health from Synorix! More than once
You have refused his hand. When last I saw you,
You all but yielded. He entreats you now
For your last answer. When he struck at Sinnatus—
As I have many a time declared to you—
He knew not at the moment who had fasten’d
About his throat—he begs you to forget it
As scarce his act:—a random stroke: all else
Was love for you: he prays you to believe him.

I pray him to believe—that I believe him.

Why that is well. You mean to marry him?

I mean to marry him—if that be well.

This very day the Romans crown him king
For all his faithful services to Rome.
He wills you then this day to marry him,
And so be throned together in the sight
Of all the people, that the world may know
You twain are reconciled, and no more feuds
Disturb our peaceful vassalage to Rome.

To-day? Too sudden. I will brood upon it.
When do they crown him?

                Even now.

                        And where?

Here by your temple.

    Come once more to me
Before the crowning,—I will answer you.

[Exit Messenger.

Great Artemis! O Camma, can it be well,
Or good, or wise, that you should clasp a hand
Red with the sacred blood of Sinnatus?

Good! mine own dagger driven by Synorix found
All good in the true heart of Sinnatus,
And quench’d it there for ever. Wise!
Life yields to death and wisdom bows to Fate,
Is wisest, doing so. Did not this man
Speak well? We cannot fight imperial Rome,
But he and I are both Galatian-born,
And tributary sovereigns, he and I
Might teach this Rome—from knowledge of our people—
Where to lay on her tribute—heavily here
And lightly there. Might I not live for that,
And drown all poor self-passion in the sense
Of public good?

                I am sure you will not marry him.

re you so sure? I pray you wait and see.

[Shouts (from the distance), ‘Synorix! Synorix!’

Synorix, Synorix! So they cried Sinnatus
Not so long since—they sicken me. The One
Who shifts his policy suffers something, must
Accuse himself, excuse himself; the Many
Will feel no shame to give themselves the lie.

Most like it was the Roman soldier shouted.

        Their shield-borne patriot of the morning star
Hang’d at mid-day, their traitor of the dawn
The clamour’d darling of their afternoon
And that same head they would have play’d at ball with
And kick’d it featureless—they now would crown.

[Flourish of trumpets.

Enter a Galatian NOBLEMAN with crown on a cushion.

    NOBLE (kneels).
Greeting and health from Synorix. He sends you
This diadem of the first Galatian Queen,
That you may feed your fancy on the glory of it,
And join your life this day with his, and wear it
Beside him on his throne. He waits your answer.

Tell him there is one shadow among the shadows,
One ghost of all the ghosts—as yet so new,
So strange among them—such an alien there,
So much of husband in it still—that if
The shout of Synorix and Camma sitting
Upon one throne, should reach it, it would rise
He! . . . HE, with that red star between the ribs,
And my knife there—and blast the king and me,
And blanch the crowd with horror. I dare not, sir!
Throne him—and then the marriage—ay and tell him
That I accept the diadem of Galatia—

[All are amazed.
Yea, that ye saw me crown myself withal.        [Puts on the crown.
I wait him his crown’d queen.

So will I tell him.


Music. Two Priestesses go up the steps before the shrine, draw the curtains on either side (discovering the Goddess), then open the gates and remain on steps, one on either side, and kneel. A priestess goes of and returns with a veil of marriage, then assists Phœbe to veil Camma. At the same tine Priestesses enter and stand on either side of the Temple. Camma and all the Priestesses kneel, raise their hands to the Goddess, and bow down.

[Shouts, ‘Synorix! Synorix!’ All rise.

Fling wide the doors and let the new-made children
Of our imperial mother see the show.

[Sunlight pours through the doors.
I have no heart to do it. (To PHŒBE).
Look for me!

[Crouches. PHŒBE looks out.

[Shouts, ‘Synorix! Synorix!’

He climbs the throne. Hot blood, ambition, pride
So bloat and redden his face—O would it were
His third last apoplexy! O bestial
O how unlike our goodly Sinnatus.

    CAMMA (on the ground).
You wrong him surely; far as the face goes
A goodlier-looking man than Sinnatus.

    PHŒBE (aside).
How dare she say it?
I could hate her for it
But that she is distracted.

[A flourish of trumpets.

                        Is he crown’d?

Ay, there they crown him.

[Crowd without shout, ‘Synorix! Synorix!’

[A Priestess brings a box of spices to Camma, who throws them on the altar-flame.

Rouse the dead altar-flame, fling in the spices,
Nard, Cinnamon, amomum, benzoin.
Let all the air reel into a mist of odour,
As in the midmost heart of Paradise.
Lay down the Lydian carpets for the king.
The king should pace on purple to his bride,
And music there to greet my lord the king.            [Music.
(To PHŒBE). Dost thou remember when I wedded Sinnatus?
Ay, thou vast there—whether from maiden fears
Or reverential love for him I loved,
Or some strange second-sight, the marriage cup
Wherefrom we make libation to the Goddess
So shook within my hand, that the red wine
Ran down the marble and lookt like blood, like blood.

I do remember your first-marriage fears.

I have no fears at this my second marriage.
See here—I stretch my hand out—hold it there.
How steady it is!

Steady enough to stab him!

O hush! O peace! This violence ill becomes
The silence of our Temple. Gentleness,
Low words best chime with this solemnity.

Enter a procession of Priestesses and Children bearing garlands and golden goblets, and strewing flowers.

Enter SYNORIX (as King, with gold laurel-wreath crown and purple robes), followed by ANTONIUS, PUBLIUS, Noblemen, Guards, and the Populace.

        Hail, King!

                        Hail, Queen
The wheel of Fate has roll’d me to the top.
I would that happiness were gold, that I
Might cast my largess of it to the crowd!
I would that every man made feast to-day
Beneath the shadow of our pines and planes!
For all my truer life begins to-day.
The past is like a travell’d land now sunk
Below the horizon-like a barren shore
That grew salt weeds, but now all drown’d in love
And glittering at full tide—the bounteous bays
And havens filling with a blissful sea.
Nor speak I now too mightily, being King
And happy! happiest, Lady, in my power
To make you happy.

                        Yes, sir.

                            Our Antonius,
Our faithful friend of Rome, tho’ Rome may set
A free foot where she will, yet of his courtesy
Entreats he may be present at our marriage.

Let him come—a legion with him, if he will.
(To ANTONIUS.) Welcome, my lord Antonius, to our Temple.
(To SYNORIX.) You on this side the altar.
(To ANTONIUS.) You on that.
Call first upon the Goddess, Synorix.

[All face the Goddess. Priestesses, Children, Populace, and Guards kneel—the others remain standing.

O Thou, that dost inspire the germ with life,
The child, a thread within the house of birth,
And give him limbs, then air, and send him forth
The glory of his father—Thou whose breath
Is balmy wind to robe our hills with grass,
And kindle all our vales with myrtle-blossom,
And roll the golden oceans of our grain,
And sway the long grape-bunches of our vines,
And fill all hearts with fatness and the lust
Of plenty—make me happy in my marriage!

    CHORUS (chanting).
Artemis, Artemis, hear him, Ionian Artemis!

O Thou that slayest the babe within the womb
Or in the being born, or after slayest him
As boy or man, great Goddess, whose storm-voice
Unsockets the strong oak, and rears his root
Beyond his head, and strows our fruits, and lays
Our golden grain, and runs to sea and makes it
Foam over all the fleeted wealth of kings
And peoples, hear.
Whose arrow is the plague-whose quick flash splits
The mid-sea mast, and rifts the tower to the rock,
And hurls the victor’s column down with him
That crowns it, hear.
Who causest the safe earth to shudder and gape,
And gulf and flatten in her closing chasm
Domed cities, hear.
Whose lava-torrents blast and blacken a province
To a cinder, hear.
Whose winter-cataracts find a realm and leave it
A waste of rock and ruin, hear. I call thee
To make my marriage prosper to my wish!

Artemis, Artemis, hear her, Ephesian Artemis!

Artemis, Artemis, hear me, Galatian Artemis!
I call on our own Goddess in our own Temple.

Artemis, Artemis, hear her, Galatian Artemis!

[Thunder. All rise.

    SYNORIX (aside).
Thunder! Ay, ay, the storm was drawing hither
Across the hills when I was being crown’d.
I wonder if I look as pale as she?

Art thou—still bent—on marrying?

These are strange words to speak to Artemis.

Words are not always what they seem, my King.
I will be faithful to thee till thou die.

I thank thee, Camma,—I thank thee.

    CAMMA (turning to ANTONIUS).
Much graced are we that our Queen Rome in you
Deigns to look in upon our barbarisms.

[Turns, goes up steps to altar before the Goddess. Takes a cup from off the altar. Holds it towards ANTONIUS. ANTONIUS goes up to the foot of the steps opposite to SYNORIX.

You see this cup, my lord.

[Gives it to him.

                        Most curious!
The many-breasted mother Artemis
Emboss’d upon it.

                It is old, I know not
How many hundred years. Give it me again.
It is the cup belonging our own Temple.

[Puts it back on altar, and takes up the cup of Act I. Showing it to ANTONIUS.

Here is another sacred to the Goddess,
The gift of Synorix; and the Goddess, being
For this most grateful, wills, thro’ me her Priestess,
In honour of his gift and of our marriage,
That Synorix should drink from his own cup.

I thank thee, Camma,—I thank thee.

                        For—my lord—
It is our ancient custom in Galatia
That ere two souls be knit for life and death,
They two should drink together from one cup,
In symbol of their married unity,
Making libation to the Goddess. Bring me
The costly wines we use in marriages.

[They bring in a large jar of wine. CAMMA pours wine into cup.

(To SYNORIX.) See here, I fill it. (To ANTONIUS.) Will you drink, my lord?

I? Why should I? I am not to he married.

But that might bring a Roman blessing on us.

    ANTONIUS (refusing cup).
Thy pardon, Priestess!

                Thou art in the right.
This blessing is for Synorix and for me.
See first I make libation to the Goddess,

[Makes libation.
And now I drink.
[Drinks and fills the cup again.
Thy turn, Galatian King.
Drink and drink deep—our marriage will be fruitful.
Drink and drink deep, and thou wilt make me happy.

[Synorix goes up to her. She hands him the cup. He drinks.

There, Camma! I have almost drain’d the cup—
A few drops left.

        Libation to the Goddess.

He throws the remaining drops on the altar and gives CAMMA the cup.

    CAMMA (placing the cup on the altar).
Why then the Goddess hears.

[Comes down and forward to tripod. ANTONIUS follows.
Where wast thou on that morning when I came
To plead to thee for Sinnatus’s life,
Beside this temple half a year ago?

I never heard of this request of thine.

    SYNORIX (coming, forward hastily to foot of tripod steps).
I sought him and
I could not find him. Pray you,
Go on with the marriage rites.

‘Camma!’ who spake?

                        Not I.

                            Nor any here.

I am all but sure that some one spake. Antonius,
If you had found him plotting against Rome,
Would you have tortured Sinnatus to death?

No thought was mine of torture or of death,
But had I found him plotting, I had counsell’d him
To rest from vain resistance. Rome is fated
To rule the world. Then, if he had not listen’d,
I might have sent him prisoner to Rome.

Why do you palter with the ceremony?
Go on with the marriage rites.

                They are finish’d.


Thou halt drunk deep enough to make me happy.
Dost thou not feel the love I bear to thee
Glow thro’ thy veins?

            The love I bear to thee
Glows thro’ my veins since first I look’d on thee.
But wherefore slur the perfect ceremony?
The sovereign of Galatia weds his Queen.
Let all be done to the fullest in the sight
Of all the Gods.
                        Nay, rather than so clip
The flowery robe of Hymen, we would add
Some golden fringe of gorgeousness beyond
Old use, to make the day memorial, when
Synorix first King, Camma, first Queen o’ the Realm,
Drew here the richest lot from Fate, to live
And die together.
                        This pain—what is it?—again?
I had a touch of this last year—in—Rome.
Yes, yes. (To ANTONIUS.) Your arm—a moment—It will pass.
I reel beneath the weight of utter joy—
This all too happy day, crown-queen at once.        [Staggers.
O all ye Gods—Jupiter!—Jupiter

[Falls backward.

Dost thou cry out upon the Gods of Rome?
Thou art Galatian-born. Our Artemis
Has vanquish’d their Diana.

    SYNORIX (on the ground).
I am poison’d.
She—close the Temple door. Let her not fly.

    CAMMA (leaning on tripod).
Have I not drunk of the same cup with thee?

Ay, by the Gods of Rome and all the world,
She too—she too—the bride! the Queen! and I—
Monstrous! I that loved her.

                        I loved him.

O murderous mad-woman!
I pray you lift me
And make me walk awhile. I have heard these poisons
May be walk’d down.

[ANTONIUS and PUBLIUS raise him up.
                        My feet are tons of lead,
They will break in the earth—I am sinking—hold me—
Let me alone.
[They leave him; he sinks down on ground.
Too late—thought myself wise—
A woman’s dupe. Antonius, tell the Senate
I have been most true to Rome—would have been true
To her—if—if——        [Falls as if dead.

    CAMMA (coming and leaning over him).
So falls the throne of an hour.

    SYNORIX (half rising).
Throne? is it thou? the Fates are throned, not we—
Not guilty of ourselves—thy doom and mine—
Thou—coming my way too—Camma—good-night.        [Dies.

    CAMMA (upheld by weeping Priestesses).
        Thy way? poor worm, crawl down thine own black hole
To the lowest Hell. Antonius, is he there?
I meant thee to have follow’d—better thus.
Nay, if my people must be thralls of Rome,
He is gentle, tho’ a Roman.

[Sinks back into the arms of the Priestesses.

                        Thou art one
With thine own people, and though a Roman I
Forgive thee, Camma.

    CAMMA (raisin, herself).
‘CAMMA!’—why there again
I am most sure that some one call’d. O women,
Ye will have Roman masters. I am glad
I shall not see it. Did not some old Greek
Say death was the chief good? He had my fate for it,
Poison’d. (Sinks back again.) Have I the crown on? I will go
To meet him, crown’d! crown’d victor of my will—
On my last voyage—but the wind has fail’d—
Growing dark too—but light enough to row.
Row to the blessed Isles! the blessed Isles!—
Why comes he not to meet me? It is the crown
Offends him—and my hands are too sleepy
To lift it off.        [PHŒBE takes the crown off.
    Who touch’d me then? I thank you.

[Rises, with outspread arms.
There—league on league of ever-shining shore
Beneath an ever-rising sun—I see him—
‘Camma, Camma!’ Sinnatus, Sinnatus!


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