A Greek Slave
Dialogue Following Song No. 6 Act I
(Maia opens Oracle box and comes out. Enter Heliodorus)
Maia: Well, it is stuffy work being an oracle! He'll love them each in turn and none for long. (Laughs) What fools women in love do make of themselves, to be sure!
Well, father, I gave them the same prophecies as usual! They went away wondering what I meant, but quite satisfied. You are peased with me, aren't you?
Heliodorus: Yes. You are useful enough in the business. But it's a business that comes naturally to a women.
Maia: Never mind that! You've grown right out of it, and I have been clever and done most of the work.
Heliodorus: Bah! You're not so clever the customers are so stupid. The fates have endowed some people with wealth and other with the sense to take it from them.
Maia: Anyhow, I have helped you to get it. And now I want you to do something to please me.
Heliodorus: Of course I will, dear. I have ordered two dozen peacocks' tongues for supper.
Maia: (Shaking her head) No, father, that's not what I want.
Heliodorus: Well, we had cuckoos' livers last night
Maia: I wasn't thinking of anything to eat.
Heliodorus: Weren't you now? Well, then, I'll buy you a rope of pearls long enough to go three times around you.
Maia: But I don't want pearls.
Heliodorus: Doesn't want pearls! What an unwomanly woman!
Maia: No, father I'll tell you what I want I want a slave.
Heliodorus: A slave! Of course, you shall have the most beautiful slave in the establishment. Summon all the maidens and take your choice.
Maia: (Eyes down, coyly) But, father, it isn't a women slave I want it's I want you to give me Diomed, the Greek
Heliodorus: A man slave! What do you want a man slave for?
Maia: Because because I'm in love with him, and I want to marry him! There!
Heliodorus: Marry a Greek slave! (Aside) Not if I know it! (Aloud) Don't you think it is rather unusual for a girl to marry her father's slave?
Maia: It's done sometimes without a father's consent
Maia: But of course I wouldn't disobey you.
Heliodorus: (Aside) No, and I don't mean you to.
Maia: (arms around Heliodorus' neck, coaxing )Well, father, is it yes?
Heliodorus: (patting her cheek )Well! Well! A girl in love must have her own way (Aside) if it's her father's way, too. (Aloud) I suppose you are not an any hurry to marry?
Maia: Not in any more hurry than a well brought up girl ought to be, father. But the sooner it's over the better don't you think so?
Heliodorus: Certainly, my dear. But I wouldn't tell Diomed just yet. (Aside) I'llmake him a present to his native Athens and see that he gets home quickly.
Maia: Ah, ti's my mission to tell other lovers their fortunes. They believe in all my omens I wish I could But no I can trust the fates to tell me my own fortune. I dare not try them, for I shouldn't trust their prophecies unless they meet that I should wed my Diomed.
(Enter Melanops hurriedly)
Oh, Master, Master! Run away run quickly!
(Enter Heli hurriedly)
Heliodorus: What is the matter?
Melanopis: It's all up with us. The Prefect of Rome is here!
Heliodorus: Now I'm in for it
Maia: The Prefect of Rome! Why has he come here?
Heliodorus: To ruin us all! I'm in a pretty mess. You want to marry beneath you and the Prefect wants to cut my head off. I look like having a pleasant day.
(Enter Melanopis hurriedly)
(Enter two Lictors)
Melanopis: Marcus Pomponius Prefect of Rome
Marcus: Are you Heliodorus who pretends to be a fortune-teller?
Heliodorus: (To MARCUS) Marcus Pomponius, Prefect of Rome!
Marcus: (Sarcastically) Oh, so you are Heliodorus the Persian! You are a wonderful necromancer, aren't you?
Heliodorus: (Humbly) The gods have gifted me, noble Prefect
Marcus: You can turn people into trees and wild beasts, and all that sort of thing, can't you?
Heliodorus: When the gods so will it, Great Prefect.
Marcus: Well, I'll try you out I'm sick of being Prefect. Turn me into a tree or a wild beast, I don't care which.
Heliodorus: Never, Peerless Prefect! You are too valuable in your present form. Rome would perish without Marcus Pomponius, the Prefect.
Marcus: Trees are valuable, too to hang humbugs on. And wild beasts are useful to tear miscreants into little bits.
Heliodorus: (Aside)I t's coming now! I'm doomed.
Marcus: (Sitting down) Now you know it's my duty to rid Rome of all malefactors. I've got a nasty way of throwing people down rugged rocks with spiky corners on them. Would you like that, do you think?
Heliodorus: No, I should hate it, noble Prefect. I'd rather retire form business altogether.
Marcus: Have you ever been bitten in the stomach by wild monkeys? It's very amusing to look on at.
Heliodorus: You won't torture me, Prefect?
Marcus: I'm not sure. Now look here soothsayer or whatever you call yourself you can't take me in. I know that you are a canting, double-faced fraud, and deserve punishment, I'll try and think out some fantastic torture that will make the populace laugh.
(Maia appears again)
Marcus: As you have made a fortune selling luck charms to gamblers and love potions to women, you must be a clever rascal, so instead of getting rid of you at once, I might make use of you (Sees Maia) Hallo! Who's this?
Heliodorus: My daughter, noble Prefect. She helps me in the business. She's head of the lover's department.
Marcus: Oh! Another gifted being! Well, listen to me, both of you. I don't believe in your Fates and I don't believe in your magic. Your cunning may be useful. It happens that your fame or your imfamy whichever you like to call it has reached the ears of the Lady Antonia.
Maia: And you are in love with her!
Marcus: Now how in the name of Erebus did you know that?
Heliodorus: The Fates
Marcus: Hang the Fates! Well, I want to marry the Lady Antonia, and she has refused me me, Marcus Pomponius, Prefect of Rome! What do you think of that?
Maia: Oh, how could any woman refuse such a delicious fate?
Marcus: it's remarkable, isn't it?
Heliodorus: The princess is flying in the face of Providence.
Marcus: Precisely, and that's not the only folly she's committing. She is coming to consult you as to her future.
Maia: The Oracle is always on the side of power and manly beauty.
Heliodorus: (Cunningly) The will of the Prefect shall direct the replies of the Oracle.
Marcus: Exactly. You have caught my meaning to a nicety.
Heliodorus: The Oracle shall tell the Lady Antonia that her future happiness lies with a tall, elegant dark gentleman, who occupies a high Government position. The oracle shall say that with him her life will be a procession of popular triumphs lighted up by a blaze of connubial bliss: That with anyone else she will suffer the direct degradataion and disaster.
Marcus: Oh yes, I know the sort of rubbish fortune-tellers talk and women believe
Heliodorus: Anyhow, she shall believe that she'll be blessed if she marries you, and she'll be damned if she doesn't.
Maia: I can't understand even a lady of Caesar's family refusing you, Prefect. Oh, look at those eyes! What a perfect Roman nose! What grandeur of figure!
Marcus: You describe all my prefections with commendable accuracy, girl. I am quite conscious of them myself. But I want Antonia to appreciate them as you do. Tell her your views and Mine.
Maia: That's not the way to win a girl. It's no use trying to force her. We must find some better plan.
Maia: Let us try to humble her pride firs, thenk, when she is cast down and miserable, she'll marry anything. The plan succeeded in a precisely similar case.
Marcus: Did it now? Where?
Page created 7 October 2001