A Greek Slave
Dialogue Following Song No. 23 Act II
(Exit all but Marcus and Melanopis. Slaves and Archias bring in statue on a trolley)
Melanopis: (To Marcus) Mighty Prefect, the coast is clear. The Greek slave has run away from Antonia.
Marcus: I will soon be a bridegroom now.
Marcus: The Greek slave run away! Discretion is the better part of love. I'm glad I seized this at the necromancer's house. I'll soon humble Antonia's pride now.
(Antonia appears on balcony)
Marcus: She won't refuse the Prefect of Rome next time he asks her, I'll be bound. (Sees Antonia) Salve, Antonia! See, I have brought your god back to you.
Antonia: (Coming down) Then he really did leave me! Are the fetters of love so galling, my Eros, that you had to fly from me? (Reaches statue) What is this? (Touches it) Back to the stone! Eros, speak to me only let me hear your voice cold cold marble again! Oh, my love!
Marcus: Princess, don't be so unhappy because a marble statue can't talk to you. Marble statues are generally unsatisfactory conversationalists!
Antonia: (Still to statue) Oh, my lost love Eros, come back!
Marcus: I say, Princess, aren't you disenchanted yet with this imposter? He never was what you thought him, believe me! Don't waste your heart on a bit of stone, give it to your Marcus. I'll love you as a husband should.
Antonia: Go, Marcus, go!
Marcus: Not till I have kissed your tears away and dried your pretty eyes. Come, console yourself, forget the god and marry me.
Marcus: But you are the laughing stock of all your friends.
Antonia: Friends don't laugh at a woman who is deserted and miserable.
Marcus: I don't agree with you. The generally do. Besides, everyone must laugh at a princess who loves a statue and cries her eyes out because he doesn't reciprocate. Here, accept me and everyone will forget your folly and look up to you as the wife of the Prefect of Rome. I'll protect you.
Antonia: (Angrily) No. You may laugh at me if you like, you and your slaves may make me the butt of your cruel wit, but I tell you, Marcus, I would rather be the pedestal on which that statue rests his feet than your wife, even if you were Cæsar himself! Adieu, Eros, my dream of love.
(Exit Antonia; when on steps she turns to statue and kisses her hand)
Marcus: What a silly woman! (Looks from statue to himself) Well, there's no accounting for taste. But I can't marry her against her will I'm not a god.
(Exit Marcus and slaves.)
Archias: Antonia really ought to be satisfied with my beautiful statue. It's a great improvement on the living Diomed.
(Enter Manlius ; he sees statue and goes to it)
Manlius: (Touching statue) So this is what she loves! It seems a very ordinary statue and not too well modelled either. I suppose the fool who carved it thinks he's an artist.
Archias: (Standing aloof aside) Soldiers don't understand art. An artist creates a soldier destroys!
Manlius: (Kicks statue) There's not much life in it now.
Iris: (Aside) Manlius! The very man! And examining his rival!
Archias: His rival! Fancy Iris caring for an indifferent critic instead of a true artist!
Iris: (Aloud) I say, Manlius, can you keep a secret?
Manlius: You can't. You want to tell it to me. But your secrets won't concern me, girl!
Iris: This one does, for it's about you and the Princess.
Archias: (Aside) Iris and I nit in it! That's more satisfactory.
Manlius: (Interested) About me and the Princess Antonia! Tell me, girl, what do you mean? What do you know?
Iris: The maid always knows more than the mistress. I know you are in love with her.
Manlius: Well, I'm not ashamed of it. How can a rough soldier compete with a god?
Iris: The god has retired from the contest. Can't you see he has gone back to marble.
Manlius: I see this caricature of a god. But tell me, how does Antonia bear her disappointment?
Iris: She doesn't know of it yet. You are to tell her.
Manlius: A messenger with news she doesn't want! That won't make her love me.
Iris: It might. You see, when a woman can't get the man she wants, she will put up with the man she can get. You'll never have a better chance in your life.
(Enter the revellers)
Manlius: And I'll try to take advantage of it. (Turns to go) At any rate, I'll show her that I'm not stone.
Page created 01 December 2001