Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: Laurence Twine
Editors: Tom Bishop, Andrew Forsberg
Not Peer Reviewed

Twine: The Pattern of Painful Adventures (Quarto)


33THE FIRST CHAPTER

34Howe Antiochus committed incest with his owne daughter, and beheaded such as sued unto her for marriage, if they coulde not resolve his questions.

35THE most famous and mightie king Antiochus, which builded the goodly citie of Antiochia in Syria, and called it after his own name, as the chiefest seat of all his dominions, and most principal place of his abode, begat upon his wife one daughter, a most excellent and beautifull yoong Ladie. Who in processe of yeeres growing up as well in ripenesse of age, as perfection of beautie: many Princes and noble men resorted unto her for intreaty of marriage, offering inestimable riches in jointure. Howbeit the king her father, evermore requiring deliberation, upon whom rather than other to bestow his daughter, perceived eftsoones an unlawfull concupiscence to boyle within his breast, which he augmented with an outragious flame of crueltie sparkling in his heart, so that he began to burne with the love of his owne childe more than it was beseeming for a father. Thus being wrapped in the toyle of blind desire, hee sustained within himselfe a fierce conflict, wherein Madnesse put Modestie to flight, and he wholly yeelded himselfe unto love.

36Wherefore, not long after, on a certaine day hee came into his daughter's chamber, and bidding all that were there for to depart, as though he had had some secret matter to conferre with her: the furious rage of lust pricking him forward thereunto, he violently forced her, though seely maiden she withstood him long to her power, and threwe away all regard of his owne honestie, and unlosed the knot of her virginitie. Now, when he was departed, and she, being alone, devised within her self what it were best for her to doe, sodainelie her nurse entred in, and perceiving her face al be blubbred with teares, "What is the matter, deare childe and Madam," quoth she, "that you sit thus sorrowfully?" "O, beloved nurse," answered the Ladie, "even nowe two noble names were lost within this chamber." "Howe so said the nurse?" "Because," quoth shee, "before marriage, through wicked villanie I am most shamefully defiled." And when the nurse had heard these wordes, and looking about more diligently, perceived indeede what was done, being inraged with sorrowe and anger, and almost distract of her wittes. "Alas what wretch or rather infernal feend," quoth she "durst thus presumptuously defile the bed of a Princesse?" "Ungodlinesse hath done this doede," quoth the Ladie. "Why then doe you not tell it the king your father?" saide the nurse. "Ah nurse," answered the Ladie, "where is my father? For if you well understoode the matter, the name of Father is lost in me, so that I can have no remedie now but death onely." But the nurse nowe by a few wordes perceiving the whole tale, and weying that the yong Lady gave inkling of remedie by death, which she much feared, beganne to assuage her griefe with comfortable wordes, and to withdrawe her minde from that mischievous purpose. Wherein she prevailed so effectually in short time, that she appeased the fresh bleeding of the greene wound, howbeit the scarre continued long time, as deepely stroken within her tender heart, before it could be throughlie cured.

37In the meane season, while this wicked father sheweth the countenance of a loving sire abroad in the eies of al his people, notwithstanding, within doores, and in his minde, he rejoyceth that he hath played the part of an husband with his daughter: which false resemblance of hateful marriage, to the intent he might alwaies enjoy, he invented a strange devise of wickednesse, to drive away all suters that should resort unto her, by propounding certaine questions, the effect and law whereof was thus published in writing. Who so findeth out the solution of my question, shall have my daughter to wife, but who so faileth, shal lose his head.

38Now, when Fame had blowen abroade the possibilitie to obtaine this Ladie, such was the singular report of her surpassing beautie, that many kings and men of great nobility repaired thither. And if haply any through skill or learning had found out the solution of the king's question, notwithstanding hee was beheaded as though hee had answered nothing to the purpose: and his head was set up at the gate to terrifie others that should come, who beholding there the present image of death, might advise them from assaying anie such danger. These outrages practised Antiochus, to the ende he might continue in filthie incest with his daughter.