Last Updated: Mar. 27, 2000
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Opera in Five Acts


N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov


English translation by Stephen Muir

Act I
Scene 1


[CURTAIN. The Roman forum]

Polenta seller: Who'll buy some polenta?
I've hot polenta for sale, straight from the hearth of the goddess Fornax.

Velox and basses: We've already had some.

Flower seller: Citizens, won't you buy some hyacinths?
I picked them myself this morning at dawn.

[Afer gives her some loose change]

Mella and tenors: Move on, children.

Flower seller: May Juno preserve you. [Exits]
Violets, anemones, hyacinths!

Velox and basses: It's a bit inconvenient here. Let's go over to Soranus's doorway. We won't be seen there.

[Exeunt to Soranus's house]

[The forum begins to fill with more and more people. Women and children bearing amphorae crowd round the drinking fountain]

Afer: Citizens! There can be no doubt: our best citizens are about to be denounced. The despicable Hispo is hiding his true intentions towards our Tribune Valerius.

T. & B.: Towards our favoured one?

Sextus: Towards our defender and patriot?

Flower seller: Violets, anemones, hyacinths!

Afer: Towards the branch of the house of Rusticus.

Basses: Towards the friend of senator Thrasea?

Afer: Yes, towards him.

Polenta seller: I've hot polenta for sale, straight from the hearth of the goddess Fornax.

Afer: And not towards Tribune Valerius Rusticus alone, but towards all the friends of the people and the tribune -- Helvidius, Priscus, Montanus, Paconius, Soranus and Thrasea. All these will perish, innocent victims of this deceitful denunciation.

T. & B.: Yes it's true. What shall we do?

Sextus: [Stands up] I'll strangle Hispo.

Afer: No, not now; for the present he will be useful.

Basses: Why tarry?

Tenors: Let's warn our patron soon.

Basses: Let's go, let's go! We're attracting attention here.

Tenors: We'll meet here tomorrow morning. Vale!


Flower seller: Violets, anemones, hyacinths!

Polenta seller: I've hot polenta for sale, straight from the hearth of the goddess Fornax.

[Afer sits on a stone bench in front of Soranus's house. Sextus stands beside him in deep thought. The forum fills with citizens, freedmen, praetorians, slave-musicians, slave-gladiators, and ordinary slaves. They place benches along the portico]

Scene 2

[An Old Man dressed in rages walks across the stage. He is very tired and walks with difficulty. As he comes up to the bench he hesitates]

Afer: [Stands up from the bench] Have a rest Old Man. Sit down, sit down; I imagine you've come a long way?

[The Old Man lowers himself onto the bench in exhaustion and covers his face with his hands]

Would you like to freshen up after your journey? Come with me to this hot spring.

[The Old Man shakes his head. Afer offers him a wallet]

Look, you dropped your wallet. Here it is.

Old Man: [Pushes aside Afer's hand] No thank you, kind man.

[Afer goes off to the side, looking at the Old Man in bewilderment]

Scene 3

[A trumpet call is heard. The town herald appears on the forum dressed as the god Mercury. He carries a silver trumpet and a caduceus]

Herald: [After trumpeting three times] Our divine Caesar Nero Augustus has sent me here to you, Roman citizens. I am the bearer of his sacred will.

Chorus: Long live Caesar Nero Augustus!

Herald: Now hear me! On the occasion of the celebrations and feasts in honour of righteous Minerva, our blessed Caesar Nero Augustus wishes to share his happiness with you, and has ordered the opening of the theatre and the circus for games and spectacle for the whole of Panathenaea.

Chorus: Long live Caesar Nero Augustus!

[The herald crosses the forum and disappears into the crowd. His trumpet call is heard from time to time]

Praetorians: Praise Nero Augustus, leader of the invincible Roman legions!
Long live Caesar Nero Mars!

Chorus: Long live Caesar Nero Mars!

Gladiators: He suppresses the lion with his bare hands.
Long live Caesar Hercules!

Chorus: Long live Caesar Hercules!

Musicians: With his blessed voice and lyre he instils life into lifeless nature; he makes the stones tremble with delight.
Long live Caesar Apollo!

Chorus: Long live Caesar Apollo!
Praise him, our Caesar higher than all gods! In him unites all Olympus. Praise him!
Has not doubt long threatened us? Have not false teachings from the East long infected the minds of the people, spreading thickly like a tree and casting its shade over Olympus?
But Caesar has raised his terrible axe and felled the venomous tree down to its rootsÉ

Scene 4

Hispo: [Emerges from the crowd] But he has not torn out those roots.

Afer: The black raven crows again!

Hispo: And does our blessed Caesar know that Christians have reappeared?

Chorus: Where? In Rome?

Hispo: No, beneath Rome. in the catacombs.

[The crowd becomes agitated]

Basses: What? Christians? Infant murderers! They brought down hunger and disease!

Tenors: They set fire to Rome!

Chorus: We remember that night, when Caesar opened the gardens for the festival and lit them up with fantastic light. We remember how human torches were bound in chains and burned at the stake!

Hispo: Many, many moths burn in the night-fires, but still more remain. I do not know from where the Christians have appeared, whether from their crosses, from the camp-fires, from the serpents mouth, from the bowels of the earth or maybe from Rome itself; but Christians, or their ghosts, are gathering daily in the catacombs, and ifÉ

[Falls silent and glances at Soranus's terrace]

Scene 5

[Servilia appears on the terrace, accompanied by Antonia and two slave-girls. The slave-girls carry baskets of flowers. Servilia's veil is thrown back; her ruffled hair is plaited with threaded pearls. There is a general hush]

Voices from crowd: Why have you fallen silent?

Hispo: [Nods to the terrace] Who is that?

Chorus: Servilia, daughter of senator Soranus.

Sopranos: [Offstage, beginning sacred music] O Athena, with your sculptured hair; O harbinger of peace, daughter of Zeus!

Hispo: The rumours were not wrong: she's beautiful!

Chorus: And soon Hymen will offer burnt sacrifices for this nymph and for Thrasea.

Hispo: What are you saying? He's old enough to be her grandfather!

Chorus: It's the will of her fatherÉ

[The herald appears. He carries the banner of Minerva, with the symbol of a bronze owl. The crowd make way on all sides and enclose the forum with multi-coloured girdles]

Herald: Citizens! To your places! The holy procession is approaching!

Scene 6

[The procession of canephoras appears on its holy way. At the front are venerable old men with olive branches; then warriors, armed with spears and shields; then young boys and girls. The girls carry sacred baskets on their heads; slaves accompany them, some with fans and folding chairs, some with libation cups filled with honey and water. Following this crowd come the musicians, rhapsodists and dancers in their full regalia. Then comes a small ship, with a small sail fluttering and bearing a representation of Minerva's victory over the titans. The ship is surrounded by priests. As the procession passes, the people all fall to their knees; only the Old Man sits motionless on the bench as before. Hispo gestures to him a little. The procession approaches slowly and goes around the forum]

Boys and girls: O Athena, with your sculptured hair; O harbinger of peace, daughter of Zeus! Your grateful people have composed odes to you and sing them in your honour. Olympian beauty, pure and wise! You have cultivated the olive tree, you have crushed the titans in battle.

[The procession draws up outside Soranus's house and stops]

War-like Dance [The dancers begin a war-like dance portraying Minerva's battle with the titans (Battle, then Victory). At the end of the dance Servilia and the slave-girls throw flowers from the terrace. The procession then makes its way to the temple of Minerva, where the sail is lowered on the sacred ship]

Chorus (Sop.): Men, bashful from youth or grey with age, and maidens -- we all implore your support, and bring fatted kids and lambs to your sacrificial altar. We come with humble gifts, bring us happy days. O Titaness, preserve us with your victorious aegis and spear.

[The procession enters the temple of Minerva]

Scene 7

[After waiting for the last of the priests to go, Hispo and a few others approach the Old Man]

Chorus (B.): Let's see what a strange Old Man we have here [they point at the Old Man], clinging to this stone like moss to a cliff. [To the Old Man] Ho! Old faun, are you dead or alive?

[The Old Man remains motionless]

Tenors: Is he deaf?

Altos: Is he blind?

Basses: He's just dozing.

Hispo: Hey!

Old Man: [Raises his head] I'm not sleeping now, but I foresee a heavy sleep ahead.

[He stands majestically from the stone bench, his eyes aglow]

Chorus: Don't bother him! He's mad!

Old Man: [Raises his eyes to the sky; Hispo retreats timorously. Servilia starts to leave, but stops. The people crowd round the Old Man]
I thank you, God most high, that my time has come! [To the crowd] Why are you here, madmen? What entertainment does Beelzebub have?

Tenors: He's delirious.

Basses: What did he say?

Tenors: Who is this Beelzebub?

Old Man: He is Satan.

Basses: He must be a barbarian.

Tenors: A Scythian or a Parthian.

Basses: Old Man, your words are incomprehensible to us. Who is this Beelzebub, this Satan?

Old Man: O Clouds of Darkness! Slaves to sin, you don't know your own master as you fumble in the darkness and walk in sin.

Chorus: We know our master is Caesar.

Old Man: Caesar is not you master; Satan, the primordial enemy of good and grace, is your master, and you are his shameful army.

Hispo: Citizens, have you heard how this beggar abuses us and patently treasons Caesar?

Old Man: O evil tribe!

[He approaches the fountain of Diana boldly. The crowd parts before him]

Chorus: Leave him, he's quite mad. No-one in their right mind would dare speak so impertinently in the forum!
Do not judge us whom the gods have already judged.

Old Man: Who has judged you? Which gods? Your gods don't exist, you blind men! There is only one all-powerful God. The universe and the rocky earth were created by him! But you, madmen, you don't know him. Your gods... here are your gods!

[He smashes the statue of Diana with his staff]

They are but fragments of marble.

[The people are momentarily rooted to the spot, then pick up stones and rush at the Old Man furiously. Servilia covers her face with her hands]

Chorus: Death! Death to him! Stone him!

Servilia: [Cries out] Aaah!

Scene 8

[Mella's and Velox's salutary cries are heard off-stage. The crowd hesitates, undecided]

Mella & Velox: [Off-stage] Long live Tribune Valerius Rusticus!

Afer & Sextus: Long live Tribune Valerius Rusticus?

Chorus: The Tribune! Our Tribune Valerius!

[A chariot rushes into the forum, surrounded by mounted warriors; in the chariot stands the People's Tribune, Valerius Rusticus]

Valerius: [Jumps from the chariot and rushes into the crowd] What's going on here? Knives? Stones? [Points at the Old Man] What sort of a man is this?

Servilia: [Runs up to the terrace railings] Tribune!

[Valerius turns round quickly. Seeing Servilia he bows his head in respect]

Tribune, save this unfortunate madman. Don't let blood be spilt on senator Soranus's doorstep.

Valerius: [To the crowd] Calm down! What has the Old Man done to you?

Chorus: He has committed sacrilege! He does not recognize the all-truthful gods! He has smashed the statue of radiant Diana... Look! Look!

Valerius: Who are you, impertinent madman?

Old Man: I am a sinful servant of our Saviour Christ.

[Some of the crowd, including Hispo, throw themselves at the Old Man]

Chorus: A Christian! A beast! A venomous asp! Stone him! Tear him to shreds!

Valerius: Get back.

[The crowd stops; Afer and Sextus join Valerius and stand beside him]

Have you forgotten that we do not make our own laws, that only Caesar has the right over life and death? [To the warriors] Seize the Old Man.

[The warriors obey him and bind the Old Man's hands]

Listen, impious bigot! [Indicates Servilia] The insulted goddess has taken the form of a noble maiden for you, and with pure words from her chaste lips has saved you in an instant from death, so that you may repent.

[Servilia bashfully lowers her veil and slowly leaves with her escort. Valerius watches her for a long time]

But know this: Jupiter himself cannot forgive you; execution awaits you.

Scene 9

Chorus: Death at the gallows! By the tiger's claws at the circus! By the jaws of the hyena! Crucify him! Death on the burning grill!

Old Man: Let's go! I thirst for cruel death! All-powerful God, grant to me, thy servant, the honour of torment to the glory of thy holy name!

Scene 1


[CURTAIN. The baths of Agrippa. A marble dining-room with 4 ionic columns. White walls crowned with cornices. On the rear wall -- a recess with water cascading over three steps; on either side of the recess -- statues of Bacchus and Hygea. In the left- and right-hand walls of the room -- tall doors. Centre-stage -- mosaic table with metallic legs depicting Satyrs. Surrounding the table -- refectory box covered with purple fabric. To the left of the door -- a stand bearing a precious vase. The dining-room is lit by many lamps hung from a candelabra. Fragrances are burning on tripods]

Paconius: I'll continue. We paused at the point where I appeared before Messalina in order to find out details of the denunciation.

Montanus: But tell us: why didn't Valerius want to visit Messalina himself?

Paconius: Recently Valerius has not been himself; he spends all day and night in the forum. He's become pale, thin sullen and quiet, like a priest of Isis. But please, pay attention! I forgot to mention that Messalina received us in a peristyle grotto -- the sculptor Glaucus emerged from there just before we entered. He is making a statue for Caesar depicting Amphitrite with Messalina. Just imagine a grotto fashioned from coral and mother-of-pearl, with fantastic trees spreading out their branches. Imagine the fragrant shade, mossy banks, a garland of soft narcissus leaves sprinkled with pearly dew-drops. She raised herself up on this fresh couch and wrung out the water from her hair. The hair is so soft that it seems to flow through her fingers and out with the water onto the dais. The goddess smiles. Her clothes, entwined around her like transparent streams, are lost on her lightly trembling body and fall away from her legs like white foam; boldly naked in all her sculptorial beauty, right to her knees.... Pure charm! But it grows dark in my eyes.... That is Messalina for you.

Montanus: Oho, Paconius! Such eloquence! Do you want to be the goddess of the sea's triton?

[Egnatius enters]

Paconius: Ah, here's Egnatius!

Scene 2

Montanus: May your arrival be blessed! Hurry up with your tale, Paconius; he has exhausted us with words of praise for Messalina, but as yet there hasn't been a word on business.

Paconius: I'll get to the point. If Messalina had not nourished good-will towards Valerius, we would stand accused by the Senate.

Egnatius: Do not thank Messalina, but Sextus!
[Unrolls a scroll] Listen! [Reads] "To the Praetorian Prefect Sofonius Libella Tigellinus. I, the Roman citizen Avidius Hispo, do declare out of civic duty that the Roman Senators Thrasea, Soranus, Helvidius and Paconius, the Tribune Valeruis Rusticus and his clients the citizens Velox, Sextus and Mella, and above all the freedman Egnatius and the Roman citizen Fulcinius Afer, are all plotting against Rome. The above being declared under oath, I can present the appropriate evidence. Signed Hispo, son of Avidius Domitsius."

Helvidius, What does this mean?

Egnatius: It means that Hispo, having scribbled down this illiterate denunciation himself, set out with it early this morning to Tigellinus. On the way he encountered Sextus who placed his hands carelessly on his throat -- to put it bluntly, he simply strangled him. At Avidius's cry a crowd gathered round, but Sextus managed to hand me this scroll.

Helvidius: My friends, we must see to our personal safety. Today we were saved, but tomorrow we won't escape so easily. What do we want -- to overthrow Tigellinus?

Egnatius, Not just us, but all Rome desires it!

Helvidius: For this, we must portray Tigellinus as a mercenary favoured one, who hides the holy figure of Caesar from the people with his dark shadow. Egnatius will draw up a statement for us and we will sign it, committing ourselves to appear before Caesar with the truth. Are we agreed?

Egnatius, We are!

Egnatius: Is it decided, then?

Helvidius, Write concisely and persuasively, Egnatius.

Paconius: Has all been said now? Since we have finished our business conversations, we can celebrate our success with a meal. [Claps]

Scene 3

[The same, plus slaves with libation cups, dishes and wreathes. Musicians, flautists, players of lyres and timbrels]

Paconius: Friends, please lie back on your couches. Ad libitum!

[His friends recline. The slaves place wreaths on their heads and give out cups of water and long garments]

The time has now come -- we are prepared before radiant Diana's altar. Let us fill our cups with sparkling juices and spend the evening in quiet conversation. [To the slaves] Prepare the libation!

[The slaves take the water jugs and perform the libation before a silver statue of Diana placed on a silver tray. The table is laden with a variety of dishes. The High-Priest enters with a golden dish of oysters; the slaves stand behind the feasters and wait on them for the duration of the meal]

Give us fresh oysters and goblets of Fazos wine mixed with Aravian spice oil.

[The cup-bearer pours from a bowl into a heavy goblet and gives it to Paconius on bended knees. The slaves bring in oysters on enamelled dishes and give out drinking horns to the guests]

Let us hear some music as we enjoy the nectar of Fazos drop by drop. [Takes his cup]

[Takes a sip and passes the cup on]

Helvidius: Pour down your blessings, O Bacchus and Hygea!

Egnatius: Pour down your blessings, O Bacchus and Hygea!

[On Paconius's signal the musicians begin to play]

Egnatius, We crown Caesar with a beautifully-leaved rose.

Montanus, And with joyful laughter fill the cup with nectar of the vine.

Montanus: The raw earth drinks, the trees drink from the earth, and the sea drinks from the air.

Egnatius: The sun drinks from the earth, the moon drinks from the sun.

Paconius, Why try to stop me, dear friends, if I want to drink!

[The musicians stop playing]

Paconius: [To Montanus] Won't you read us some lines in praise of Bacchus?

Montanus: Gladly. I'll try to remember the words of a certain poet.

Helvidius, One without name? But we'll guess!

Paconius: Read it to some music. [Applauds]

[The musicians begin to play]

Montanus: [In declamatory style] Ever-youthful Bacchus, today I have placed a green laurel branch on your altar and, laying out the fatted lamb, have poured over the purple wine and burned my humble sacrifice to you. I, a pitiful madman, have been ignorant of your life-giving strength until now, O bright-eyed son of Semele! I lived without purpose until I saw Eurinome. Sitting nearby in the shade of an olive grove, I heard the distant sounds of wild orgies. Suddenly, Eurinome passed before me like some slender sapling, on quiet, soundless foot. She was tired from lively dances and the juice of the grape; she quietly lay down on the grass and fell asleep. Overcome with passion, I saw thyrsus fall from her hand, and her supple shoulders gradually slipped out in a milky wave from under the tiger fur. Her opened lips attracted kisses. I, a pitiful madman....

[The musicians stop]

Helvidius: The bacchantes of Greece are beautiful indeed, and so are the Roman maenads, evasive as the birds of the fields, with bracelets on their trembling hands and timbrels on their curly heads. You could gaze at them for an age!

Paconius: And here they are: gaze on! [Claps]

Dance of the Maenads

[Music. The maenads enter, arms linked, and move around the stage. One maenad stands centre-stage, motionless, as if riveted to the spot, and then writhes around like a snake. She gets faster and faster, then suddenly leaps backwards and freezes in a wearied pose. Suddenly the maenad breaks her chains and spins around the stage. The guests applaud]

Scene 4

[The same. Slaves run onto the stage and the dance stops. There is general confusion. The maenads are agitated, the slaves remove the cups and dining things. They proceed to the right-hand door, jostling and trampling on each other, and exit. Some of the lamps go out because of the wind. The feasters remain calmly on their couches]

Chorus of Slaves: Fire! Fire! The library is burning!

Paconius: There is a strong smell of smoke. It's time to leave. But the doors are locked!

Egnatius: This is Tigellinus's doing, believe me!

Helvidius, What shall we do? Let's break down the doors.

Egnatius: Don't trouble yourselves. I have hear a key which opens any lock.

[He pulls out a key from under his toga, unlocks the door and sticks his head out]

Quiet, quiet... the coast is clear.... Run!

Helvidius, You've saved us twice, Egnatius!

[They all leave quickly. The stage is empty. Then after a short time Egnatius returns. He runs up to the statue of Hygea and knocks twice on the pedestal. The statue moves and reveals a secret door]

Scene 5

[Egnatius and Tigellinus]

Egnatius: [Kisses the skirt of Tigellinus's toga] Rejoice, noble Tigellinus.

Tigellinus: [Enters the dining-room] Did everything go to plan?

Egnatius: Better than I had expected.

Tigellinus: You can give me more details at home. But tell me about yourself. There must be a reason for your devotion to me -- you are disinterested, not at all vain. What passion inspires you? Vengeance, the desire for power, jealousy?

[Tigellinus looks intently at Egnatius. Egnatius stands motionless before Tigellinus with bowed head]

Egnatius: [Straightens up] It's love!

Scene 1

[CURTAIN. Peristyle hall in Soranus's house. 16 columns, linked by gentle arches, form an exact square on a marble dais. Flowering ivy hangs from each arch. In each corner there are fountains; one has a bronze statue of a deer drinking. Vases and statues stand in the spaces between the columns....]

[Servilia sits at a spinning wheel. She is wearing a light blue sleeveless tunic without a veil; her black hair is heavily plaited, and pierced with a gold pin. A few paces away sits Antonia at a spinning wheel, and a few slave-girls, sewing. One of the slave-girls has a lyre. Antonia and the slave-girls sing]

Chorus: Comb the fleece, wind it into fibrous strands and silvery threads on the spindle.

Antonia, Aaa...

Chorus: We have spun and woven the simple cloth. Now we will weave a marriage tunic for young Eurydice.

[Servilia shudders and stops her spinning]

Scene 2

[The same, plus Soranus, who enters from the drawing-room and, pausing in the doorway, looks at Servilia; he then goes up to her quietly. He kisses, Servilia, who stands up and embraces her father]

Servilia: Carissima!

Soranus: You're a true citizen of Rome, doing you're spinning to the songs of the nurse and the slave-girls!

Servilia: I was sad.

Soranus: Sadness comes to a young maiden before happiness.

[Waves at Antonia and slave-girls]

Leave us! [They leave]

[Soranus and Servilia come out onto the proscenium]

Servilia! You know that in my old age fate has unexpectedly consoled me. You know that Thrasea has favoured you with his attention and would like to marry you? Why are you silent?

Servilia: I know.

Soranus: Times of trouble are upon us; persecutions and false denunciations have spread terror everywhere. I'm old and weak, and you need to be supported. Thrasea -- the very name symbolises nobility, courage and heroic steadfastness. I've asked Senator Thrasea to conclude the business, and the sooner the better. Prepare yourself for your wedding ceremony.

Servilia: Father! Listen....Ah, how painful it is! Listen....are you really not sorry to part with your Servilia? I'm young....O, by your love and carefree will, let me breath!

Soranus: O, my daughter! You should be ashamed to answer serious talk with the foolish words of an infant.

Servilia: Stop! My lips have not yet been profaned by an untruth. I tear out my heart before you, and lay bare my trembling soul. Look at it! You are wise and sagacious -- look at it! Don't you see that it is filled with bitter anguish? My troubled soul is full of forebodings of unavoidable woe. You know, a mysterious shadow pursues me everywhere, day and night. You remember the old Christian man? He gave me a kindly look, pointing to the sky.

Soranus: Be silent! Yesterday your mysterious fanatic disappeared from the town gaol, not alone, but with old Sextus!

Servilia: He escaped! May Jupiter preserve him!

Soranus: This is how it is, believe me. The shades of doubt are gone from my mind -- the torch of reason burns, and you will be illuminated by its rays when you are Thrasea's wife.

Servilia: Don't mention Thrasea's name! Yes, I must confess all to you. It seems to me....I think....that I love....I love....another! Father, strike me down, curse me, or else save me and tear out the passion from my heart. O father, have pity on your Servilia.

Soranus: [Approaches Servilia] Mad, mad child! You don't understand your own words! Love is a contagious disease of the soul; you could not have been infected with love; you don't know how to love yet, and you don't love!

Servilia: I don't know how...? I don't...?

[Runs up to Soranus] You mustn't laugh at me! Save me father, save me!

Soranus: What is wrong with you, Servilia? Pull yourself together!

[Slave enters]

Slave: Senator Thrasea is here.

Soranus: Show him in.

[Slave exits]

[Severely] Servilia! I shall not waste my gift of speech. You must know that today your fate will be decided. Get ready and return here quickly.

Servilia: [Raises her head proudly] I'm going. But you, father, must tell Thrasea that your daughter Servilia will never consent to be his wife.

Soranus: [Looks after here in amazement] No, this is not a childish impulse, but the pain of a soul torn in pieces. Can it be that instinct is stronger than reason or will?

Scene 3

[Thrasea and Egnatius enter from the lobby. Egnatius carries a scroll, ink-well, and a reed pen]

Soranus: [Goes to meet Thrasea] Greetings, my teacher and my friend.

Thrasea: [Shakes Soranus's hand] Greetings. We have much to settle today, my old friend.

Soranus: Has Egnatius read you his statement?

Thrasea: I've read it myself. It is expertly composed. I'll be the first to sign it.

[He takes the scroll from Egnatius, places it on the pedestal of one of the statues, and signs it]

Now you, Soranus. [Passes the scroll over]

Soranus: [Signs] Now let the others sign for valiant Thrasea.

[Hands the scroll to Egnatius]

Egnatius: Shall we go to Valerius now?

Thrasea: There's no need; Valerius will not sign it. We'll need a defender in case we fail, and who else could we have as a reliable advocate?

Egnatius: But we have no reason to fear failure: all Rome is behind us.

Soranus: Go, then, and don't forget that the fate of many is in your hands.

[Egnatius kisses Soranus's hand and exits]

Scene 4

[Thrasea and Soranus alone]

Thrasea: Soranus! Your good will alone allows me to make a bold and serious confession. You see, I've come here with a rejection.

Soranus: From anyone else I would take that as a deadly insult....

Thrasea: Listen my friend. I love your daughter, and respect her as I do my Valerius. But look at us, Soranus: we can no longer be consoled by Anacreon, and must admit that an old man's grey hair befits a young maiden's beauty like pink befits a white lily. Just think: have I, who is embarking on a struggle between life and death with the favoured ones of Rome, the right to bind up the fate of your wonderful Servilia with my uncertain lot? I'm telling you, Valerius is suffering in proud silence, and we are the cause of his suffering. He's hopelessly in love with Servilia. I have persuaded him to come here today. My friend, should not we old men yield to youth in the great spirit of nobility?

Soranus: Thrasea, my friend, your frankness flows from the truth, as a clear stream from a spring. Come to the library with me, my friend, and we will conclude our serious business.

[Exeunt, The stage is empty]

Scene 5

[Servilia alone, then with Valerius. Servilia enters. She is wearing a white stole and a transparent veil fastened to her hair with a diamond trousseau]

Servilia: [Walks over to some flowers] My flowers! In the midday heat, you, the nuptial beauty of Spring, hang you melancholy heads under the hot kisses of the wind. But the dawn sprinkles you, the cool of the evening refreshes you, in the middle of the day thoughtful Servilia waters you. But my heart, burning with the fire of jealous passion, is sprinkled only with tears, and my heart bleeds.

[Fills a watering-can from the fountain and waters the flowers. Valerius enters, unseen by Servilia]

Why did the gods give women feelings, if people and fate then remove their freedom to express those feelings?

[Stands the watering-can on the edge of the fountain]

All nature -- the flowers, the blue waves, the little birds -- they all sing a loud a hymn of praise to Cyprus, the Mother of Nature; but poor Servilia cannot name him whom her heart seeks. It says: I love you, I love you!

[Sees Valerius] Valerius!

Valerius: Greetings, beautiful daughter of Soranus.

Servilia: I thank...I thank the unexpected circumstances that have brought our dear guest to our home.

Valerius: Forgive me, Servilia! I did not mean to break the thread of your bright dreams, nor eclipse their radiant form, as a passing rain-cloud cuts out the light of the evening star.

Servilia: It is my fault, not yours, that my clumsy babble fell on the ears of the noble Tribune. A girl's day-dreams are absurd to men of the sword and laticlave.

Valerius: The day-dreams of youth are inseparable from a maiden's soul, like day and light, like a rose and its bouquet. But it seems strange if a man dreams of impossible happiness.

Servilia: They say that nothing in the world is impossible for a person of intellect.

Valerius: I shan't argue with that. But imagine that I met a goddess in the form of a mortal maiden; her beauty is indescribable. Her whole being flows from the waves of the sea and the sunlight, like Cyprus of old; her wondrously virginal personage shines innocently with majestic beauty; her eyes are like the fiery skies of Rome -- heavenly blue azure by day, burning stars by night. Mad love for this wondrous beauty has awoken in me like an unbidden gift. It is insane! But I impertinently forgot that this youthful beauty is already betrothed -- and to whom? My father and friend. Tell me now, Servilia, is my desire reasonable, is it right?

Servilia: Valerius! What if this maiden does not love, and never has loved her betrothed, and will never consent to be his wife?

Valerius: Servilia? You are teasing me! I don't believe you -- how can you joke so mercilessly.

Servilia: I cannot joke about sleepless nights, I cannot joke about despondency and melancholy, about dreams and hopes, tears of love, and all those sacred things of youth.

Valerius: Servilia! I vow by the terrible Styx that nobody has ever loved you, or will ever love you, as I love you!

Scene 6

[Servilia, Valerius, Thrasea; then Soranus and Antonia]

Thrasea: [Enters] Stop, Valerius! Thrasea asks your forgiveness, and yours, Servilia. In old age, people's eyes grow weak and cannot bear the rays of daylight–not just the brilliance of radiant and wonderful beauty. I have done all I can to make up for my faults. As your father, Valerius, I have asked my friend Soranus, on your behalf, for Servilia's hand in marriage! And my friend Soranus has agreed to give your marriage his blessing.

Valerius: [Embraces Thrasea] May father and my friend!

Servilia: O, noble Thrasea!

Valerius: I love you, Servilia, even stronger than before!

Servilia: I love you, Valerius, even stronger than before!

Valerius: How my heart beats and is on fire! What happiness the gods have granted! Servilia, I love you!

Servilia: How my heart beats and is on fire! What happiness the gods have granted! Valerius, I love you!

Thrasea: Philosophy cannot solve matters of the heart–only love can!

Soranus: [Enters, with Antonia] No adopted son of Thrasea shall emerge from my house feeling unwelcomed by me. Let me embrace you as my dear and beloved son. [To Antonia] Servilia lost her mother whilst still a child, and you took her place yourself, my dear Antonia. It is because of you that beloved Servilia's fate has come to pass!

Antonia: [To Servilia] My child! My delightful nymph!

Soranus: [To Valerius] Here is my daughter. With her consent, I hand her over to you, Valerius. Be her husband, love, honour and protect her.

[Joins Valerius's and Servilia's hands]


Soranus, Thrasea, Before you, O Higher Intellect, I fall on my knees; let your unseen
Antonia: blessings fall on this couple. Like the sun, lighten their lives with your clear gaze. May a tall cypress grow up in their garden.

Valerius: Look: it is the chariot of the Sun-Titan in all its brilliance; the storm-clouds move away quietly, taking with them the season of bad weather. And a rose peers through the forest thicket, queen of all the flowers. You, my bride, are such a queenly rose amongst all beauties.

Servilia: Look: it is the chariot of the Sun-Titan in all its brilliance; the storm-clouds move away quietly, taking with them the season of bad weather. A stately lily smells sweetly amidst the green forest thicket. A proud lily amongst the glorious Romans, you are my handsome fiancŽ.

Scene 7

[The same, plus a slave and a centurion]

Slave: A centurion has arrived!

Soranus, Thrasea,
Antonia, What is a centurion doing here?
Servilia, Valerius:

Soranus: [To the slave] Show him in.

[The slave draws back the curtain to the lobby. The centurion enters]

Centurion: Citizens, Senators Thrasea and Soranus! On behalf of the senate and the people I have been sent here to inform you that you and your accomplices have been charged with treason against Rome!

Act IV

Scene I

[CURTAIN. A drawing-room in Locusta's house. A black curtain hangs from the rear wall. On the side walls are pillars, painted black. To the right is a door to the atrium, to the left–a small door, cleverly concealed by a protruding pillar....]

[Locusta alone, then with Egnatius]

Locusta: [Unrolls a scroll and reads] "Make a small likeness in wax of the person on whom you want to cast the spell, light the magic fire with fig-tree branches, and cover the gravestones with funereal cypress branches. Throw onto the magic fire seven eggs stained with the blood of a sepulchral toad, some owl's feathers, Iberian grasses, and the bones of a she wolf....Next, sprinkle the house with water from Avernus, then smear the poison of a cockatrice over the wax figure (of so-and-so), and, piercing its heart with a needle, say: 'goddess of darkness and mystery...'"

[Egnatius enters hurriedly]

Egnatius: I'm here. I'm afraid–will the spirits obey you?

Locusta: My spells have power only over the enemies of the primordial good and true.

[Egnatius exits behind the black curtain]

Scene 2

[Locusta and Servilia. The door to the atrium opens; one of Locusta's slaves leads Servilia in, who is dressed from head to toe in dark impluvium. The slave exits at Locusta's command]

Locusta: Greetings, Servilia. How can I be of service?

Servilia: Locusta! All Rome knows my unhappiness. My father has been accused and slandered. Where is my betrothed, O righteous Gods?...To discover their fate and unveil the future–that is what Soranus's unhappy daughter has come to Locusta for.

Locusta: The future is hidden from us by the wings of Saturn the invisible and inaudible. But who can predict the course of his flight?

Servilia: [Takes off her veil, removes the silver trousseau and gives it to Locusta] Here is my wedding attire: diamonds, pearls, precious gems. Take them as payment for your trouble.

Locusta: But you know, Servilia, that I must disturb the peace of a grave and evoke the ghost of the enchantress Sagana? Before her disembodies eyes, the past and future are merged together in one frozen instant. Can you bear the appearance of a ghost without trembling?

Servilia: I shall not tremble.

Locusta: Then wait. In a moment I shall be completely at your service.

[Raises the curtain slightly and exits]

Scene 3

Servilia: O gods! Strengthen the timid spirit and will of a feeble woman! It is not idleness, impertinence, nor empty curiosity, but feelings and love that have made me transgress the forbidden limits and lift the shroud of immortal life with my mortal hands.

Scene 4

[Servilia and Locusta. Later–an apparition and voices off-stage]

Locusta's laboratory is revealed from behind the curtain....Human skulls, bones and scrolls are lying around....Locusta stands by a tripod with her magic wand. She goes over to Servilia, traces a magic circle with her wand, and places Servilia in it]

Locusta: There we are. Now let me warn you: I am powerless beyond this line. Do not come out of the circle!

[Locusta goes over to the tripod and throws magic potions into the fire, whispering incomprehensible incantations. A blue flame flares up over the burner; plaintive sounds are heard in the air]

[Raising her voice] Hecate, Hecate! I can hear you, I know you are near: the guard-dogs greet you with howls. Hecate, Hecate! I am casting into the flames basilisk heads, myrrh with aloes, and the grey hairs of an old sorceress.

[Smoke rises from the burner]

Voices: [Barely audible] Ah! Ah!

Locusta: [Picks up a bronze shield] As a symbol of creation and secret nature, O subterranean power, I invoke you with fear and mysterious words. I shall summon up my magical powers with a ratatat on the dome of this shield. O tomb, open up! Appear on my summons, O Sagana!

[She knocks on the shield. The rooms lights up in red; in the smoke appears an apparition of an old woman]

Apparition: [Remotely] Who has summoned me?

Servilia: [Firmly] O subterranean power! I, Servilia, daughter of the Roman senator Soranus, have dared to disturb the peace of your grave, and implore you to answer me.

[The apparition is silent]

Will you answer me?

[Locusta waves her wand authoritatively]

Apparition: Ask what you will!

Servilia: Tell me, where is Tribune Valerius Rusticus, my faithful friend and dear fiancŽ? Also tell me this: will Caesar pardon and protect my father, who is wrongly accused by traitors and vile hypocrites?

Apparition: Your question will be answered by he whom you yourself have accused wrongly. [Disappears]

[The black curtain closes]

Scene 5

[Servilia alone, then with Egnatius]

Servilia: She has vanished! O, how frightening is the world beyond the grave! She had only to touch me, and I would have fallen down, a soulless corpse. What did she say?...My mind is spinning.

[Goes over to where the apparition had been, and buries her head in her hands]

Yes...I remember. "Your question will be answered by he whom you yourself have accused wrongly." But whom have I accused?

Egnatius: [Emerges from behind the curtain] Me...

Servilia: Egnatius?

Egnatius: Yes, me, Servilia; do not be afraid. I have come not as an enemy, but as a friend.

Servilia: What a hypocrite! You should be ashamed to dare to call yourself a friend!

Egnatius: I do not know if you are ready to hear my confession, but your father's fate depends the following conversation. Will you listen?

Servilia: Speak, Egnatius.

Egnatius: Imagine that a drunken cohort treacherously mounts a surprise attack on a Teutonic settlement in the dead of night, sets fire to it and pillages it. The barbarians throw themselves at the pillaging gang, but their bodies fall by the sword on the charred remains of their burning dwellings. Babies and old men are shamelessly murdered, and young women, girls and boys are taken off into slavery. But now about me. Like a bear-cub, carried off from its den by hunters, I bit myself as I gnawed at my bindings, until hunger overcame me after three days. They drove us into Rome in collars, like animals. Soranus bought me–and thus I settled in your house as a slave and pitiful orphan.

Servilia: Do not slander so! My father did not crush you under his heel like a young serpent, but warmed to you in his heart.

Egnatius: But that heart was alien to me! Suddenly before my eyes appeared a terrible picture of the past! I realised, or tried to realise, that I should be grateful towards Soranus; but at the same time, I felt how strongly I hate all Romans in his person.

Servilia: It's not right to take revenge on innocent people for your bad lot!

Egnatius: But one day I suddenly understood that I had a goal that I had to achieve. I pursued it. Hope lit the way like a guiding star, and my life took on meaning. When I was given my freedom, I received the rank and toga of a citizen. When I found out about the intrigue, I drew in Thrasea and the stoics to fight against the favoured ones of Rome. And for what? To attain my goal. Understand this: two words from me to Tigellinus, and your father will be free.

Servilia: I see...But I don't understand you yourself.

Egnatius: Servilia! If you wish, you can save your father with a single glance, a movement of your eyebrows, a gentle smile.

Servilia: Tell me–what do you demand?

Egnatius: [Falls to his knees] Your love!

Servilia: [Rises] Curse the day you were born!

Egnatius: [Holds out his hand to her] Servilia, Servilia! Two years, two lifetimes of suffering and struggling! I love you passionately–I'm dying from jealousy, passion and despair! Your father and Thrasea are a sacrifice on the alter of my love for you. You are my only goddess; I worship and pray to you alone. I beseech you, look: I kiss the ground you tread; I bow my head to the ground and weep!

[Egnatius sobs, pressing his head to the ground]

Servilia: This is my answer: the noble Tribune's bride and patrician, the woman who loves him, can only look at a traitor and a base slave on his knees with loathing.

Egnatius: Then know this, haughty matron: Valerius has fallen at the hands of an assassin!

Servilia: You're lying, you despicable thing! If Valerius were dead, my unsleeping heart would dissolve in pieces.

Egnatius: Take comfort! I suggest that you become my wife–and I shall not break my word.

Servilia: I would rather smash my skull against the wall that let you touch me!

Egnatius: Understand this: you are in my power. Do not nourish any hope of being rescued. I am prepared to wait for your consent, and shall leave you alone here. Think hard about it, Servilia.

[Exits behind curtain]

Scene 6

[Servilia alone. She turns out the lamp and runs to the door of the atrium]

Servilia: Ye gods! Everything is locked...My last hope is gone! [Sobs] O, Valerius! My precious Valerius. Farewell more moment and death will deliver me from shame. [Wrings her hands] But where are you, all-seeing gods? Save me! Your unfortunate one implores you; save me from ruin! But no. [Despairingly] You are deaf and blind.

Scene 7

[Servilia and Nevolea]

[The door to the left opens quietly, and Nevolea emerges, dressed in white and carrying a torch]

Nevolea: Do not call upon the gods, my sister Servilia.

Servilia: Who are you?

Nevolea: Nevolea, Locusta's slave-girl, and you sister in the Lord.

Servilia: My sister? Where did you come from? Why are you here?

Nevolea: I have come in the name of God to save you.

Servilia: Are you a Christian?

Nevolea: I confess my sins and am washed with bitter tears. [Points to the door] Beyond that secret door is an underground passage to the catacombs. Come with me. Hark! I hear footsteps!

Servilia: Take me with you! Into your hands, O Christian God, Servilia entrusts her fate.

[They both exit through the secret door]

Nevolea, Servilia: [Off-stage, nearby] Into your hands, O Christian God, [further away] Servilia entrusts her fate.

[CURTAIN (lowers very slowly]

Act V

Scene 1

[Introduction. The temple of Venus. In the middle of the rear wall is an eight-columned doorway with latticed gates. To the right is an archway leading to an altar for idols. To the left, opposite the archway, is a huge statue of Venus. At the foot of the statue stands a three-tiered platform, with chairs for Caesar and the two consuls. On the lowest level of the platform is a chair for the praetor and a bench for the tribunes. To the sides are semi-circular benches with steps leading up to them, for the senators. The platform and benches are covered in velvet, and are surrounded by protective sliding railings. In the left corner, behind the railings, are chairs for the clerks. Centre-stage is a sacrificial altar. The praetor, consuls, senators, two of the tribunes and the clerks are all seated ready. The quaestor is behind Caesar's chair, the herald behind the praetor's. Egnatius is seated on the tribunes' bench, and to either side, in front of the railings, are positioned lictors.

Praetor: [Stands] Our tribunal is now in session, beginning with the reading of the plans for the eradication of Stoicism: [unrolls a scroll and reads] "Primo: for the conferment into eternal exile of senators Paconius, Helvidius and Montanus, our assembly suggests calling Thrasea and Soranus, both accused of conspiring against Rome. When they are assembled, we will read the exemplary verdict of the tribunal to the guilty senators Thrasea and Soranus, who are unashamed at the disappearance of Valerius, Tribune of the Thirtieth Tribe. They will then be sent reverently for judgement at the discretion of our divine Caesar Nero."

[To the judges] The witnesses are assembled. Herald! Do your duty!

Herald: [Approaches the railings] Call senators Thrasea and Soranus!

Scene 2

[The same. Soranus and Thrasea emerge from under the archway and stand before the railings]

Praetor: What does Thrasea have to say in his defence?

Thrasea: Thrasea considers it a humiliation to answer to lies and slander.

Praetor: Soranus, you are faced with another serious charge: that you dared to resort to the exorcism of the subterranean powers and summoned the help of the inhabitors of the grave.

Soranus: It is slander.

Praetor: Let the tribunal hear the second paragraph of our plan: [reads] "Secundo: to call before the tribunal Servilia, daughter of the Roman senator Soranus: Herald! Do your duty!

Herald: Call Servilia, daughter of the Roman senator Soranus!

Scene 3

[The same, plus Servilia. She is dressed in a tunic of coarse fabric; a veil completely covers her face and body. Servilia takes a few steps and stops]

Soranus: O, poor, poor child!

Thrasea: Servilia, your friends are on the look out for you.

Praetor: Freedman Egnatius: approach the bench!

Egnatius: [To Servilia] Allow me to ask you why you sold your trousseau.

[Servilia is silent]

Why? Let me help you. You sold your trousseau for a considerable sum in order to gain the help of a sorcerer, a magician. At your father's behest you went there and took part in magical rituals. Why was Caesar's name not invoked in your incantations?

Praetor: We await your answer.

Servilia: [Folds her arms and weeps, covering herself with the veil] Consuls and judges! No, I did not call upon the subterranean powers, nor did I disturb the peace of the grave, nor did I visit a magician. I a fortune-teller, and did indeed remove my trousseau. But if I am guilty, judge me alone. My unfortunate father knew nothing of my misdemeanour until now, I swear it! So judge me!

Soranus: Servilia!

Servilia: Father!

[They try to embrace, but the lictors separate them]

Scene 4

[The same, plus Fulcinius Afer and several citizens]

Afer: [Off-stage] Praetor, Praetor! They're not letting witnesses in! Open up the latticed gates!

Praetor: [To the lictors] Open up!

[The lictors open the latticed gates; part of the forum is visible through the doorway; it is filled with a dense crowd. Those at the front clamber up the steps, pushing aside the praetorian guards, and crowd round the door of the temple. Afer, Mella and Velox are among them]

Praetor: [Approaches them] And who are you?

Afer: We are Roman citizens! We are chosen by the tribe of Valerius, most bright and righteous tribunal! Servilia, daughter of the Roman senator Soranus, is wrongly accused, and we all assert under oath that there is none more innocent than her in all Rome.

[The consuls and senators whisper amongst themselves. The praetor scribbles hurriedly. Egnatius goes over to him and whispers in his ear. Armed praetorian guards emerge from under the archway and line the temple walls]

She is worthy of being called the wife of such a man as Valerius.

Servilia: I thank you, Fulcinius Afer! Not on my behalf, but on the behalf of your tribune, to the memory of his precious soul.

[She lowers her veil and weeps]

Soranus: A father thanks you on behalf of his daughter.

Thrasea: And I thank you on behalf of Rome, citizens.

[He stands and throws off his pretext]

Praetor: Kindly listen: [reads] "It is the unanimous opinion of the tribunal that Thrasea and Soranus, unquestionably guilty of conspiracy against Rome, should be publicly deprived of their Roman citizenship and condemned to eternal exile. By virtue of her youth and the questionable gravity of her offence, Servilia, daughter of the Roman senator Soranus, is given over on bail and on probation to Egnatius." Now we'll sign the declaration.

Valerius: [Appears at the temple door] Veto!

Scene 5

[The same, plus Valerius, followed behind by a mixed crowd, including Sextus, Nevolea and Antonia. Later -- Tigellinus]

[Seeing Valerius, Servilia lets out a terrible cry. She sways and falls into Soranus's arms]

Servilia: Aah!

Afer, Mella, Valerius!
Velox, Sextus:

Egnatius: [Tears at his hair] He lives! My mortal enemy lives! Curses!

[Tigellinus enters]

Valerius: By the power of the Roman Tribune I declare this meeting closed!

Tigellinus: [Approaches Valerius] What? Tribune! Is the Tribune mightier than Caesar Nero?

Valerius: I bear a message from Caesar.

Tigellinus: From Caesar?

Egnatius: [To himself] Ah! This is Messalina's doing!

Valerius: [Hands a scroll to the praetor, who passes it to the quaestor. The quaestor, consuls and senators read it] Caesar has hereby commanded me to inform the senators and judges that he will be in Rome tomorrow.

Chorus (people): Long live our divine Caesar!

Praetor: Our session is closed...senator fathers! We can retire.

[They consuls, praetor, senators quaestor herald, clerks and lictors leave one after the other. The crowd surrounds Valerius, his clients kiss the skirt of his toga]

Egnatius: [To Tigellinus] Do not let Valerius leave the temple alive. Have him killed.

Tigellinus: [Points to the crowd] It's too late.

Egnatius: [Looks after him] Then I'll do it myself. Let the crowd tear me to pieces; I shall not die alone.

[Sits on the bench]

Scene 6

[Servilia, Nevolea, Antonia, Thrasea, Soranus, Egnatius, Valerius, Afer, Sextus, Mella, Velox, citizens, crowd. At the end of the act -- Old Man]

Valerius: [Sees Servilia] Servilia, Servilia, you're here?

Servilia: [Weakly] Valerius...You...Don't come near me...

Valerius: What is wrong?

Egnatius: [Aside] He lives, my mortal enemy lives!

Servilia: I am very weak. Don't come near me...father, let us go! [Straightens up] I feel a little better now.

Valerius: Servilia, Servilia! Your voice, your eyes?

Servilia: The seal of the grave is on them.

Valerius: Servilia, why are you frightening me so?

Nevolea, Antonia, My sister/child, let us leave quickly.
Soranus, Thrasea:

Valerius: Servilia, why do you tear my heart to pieces?

Nevolea, Antonia, You will rest (sister) under your own roof.
Soranus, Thrasea:

Servilia: My enemies persuaded me you were gone, saying: "Valerius has fallen at the hands of an assassin!" I wept for so long, I prayed fervently, and finally the Lord comforted me.

Nevolea, Antonia, My sister/child, you are very ill; you need rest and quiet, but there
Soranus, Thrasea: are too many people here.

Valerius: Servilia, my dear bride!

Egnatius: My star, you have not yet gone out!

Afer, Mella, The senate is wrong -- Servilia is innocent!
Sextus, Velox:

Servilia: I shall rest, but under a different roof. Valerius, please promise to fulfil my dying wish and request. [Takes his hand and walks a few steps] Swear to me that you will not take vengeance on my enemies, who have gone astray.

Egnatius: She is leading him to me.

Valerius: Servilia!...

Servilia: Swear it!

Valerius: I swear it, Servilia!

Servilia: Listen, Valerius!

[Her voice rings out sonorously in the temple's arches. The crowd presses round attentively. Egnatius stands behind Valerius]

I began to see clearly into a new world. I recognised the power of wondrous grace, and understood with a clear sprit that our gods are but a speck of dust before the eternal Sun of truth and love. I am a Christian, yes, a Christian!

[Valerius shudders. The crowd steps back]

As I said goodbye to you forever in my mind, I made a vow at the holy altar of the Lord, to devote myself to the service of God and renounce earthly happiness and love. When I saw you again, the very strings of my life snapped in an instant. And now the last string is sounding, and that is getting weaker....My sweet Valerius! Servilia the worshipper of idols loved you with her heart; but Servilia the Christian loves you with her immortal soul! Believe, my sweet, turn to God, and we will be united in heaven.

[Her voice grows weaker and weaker]

I know that you will come to believe...and soon. Now my earthly life is over...Valerius! Give me your hand...where are you, Valerius?

[She sways. Valerius and Soranus support her]

Valerius: I'm here, my friend, at you heart.

Nevolea, Sextus,
Antonia, Afer, Quickly, fetch a doctor! She's fainting!
Thrasea, Soranus:

Servilia: [Very quietly] Forgive me, heavenly redeemer, as I forgive my most evil enemies.

[She dies]

Valerius: Servilia, Servilia! I believe, together with you I believe.

Soranus: Call her no more! Servilia cannot hear us any longer.

Valerius: She can hear me.

[He pulls out a knife from under his toga]

Thrasea: [Stops Valerius's hand] Don't forget your vow to her. The soul of one who commits suicide cannot follow where her soul has now gone.

[Valerius buries his face in his hands and weeps]

Egnatius: She's dead....

[Moves closer and looks over Servilia's body]

Her enemies...she forgave me as she died....

[Rents his clothes]

O, woe is me! There is an all-powerful God! There is an impartial judge in heaven, the Defender of Good and Punisher of Evil!

Old Man: [Enters majestically] Pray to him -- there is no end to his grace. It is divine fate: prostrate yourselves before him. When you can acknowledge him, exclaim with me: "I believe in the one living God!"

Nevolea, Sextus: Pray to him -- there is no end to his grace.

All: Credo! Credo! Credo!


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