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  • Title: Galathea (Modern)
  • Editor: David Bevington

  • Copyright David Bevington. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: John Lyly
    Editor: David Bevington
    Peer Reviewed

    Galathea (Modern)

    [Enter] Tityrus [and] Galathea [disguised as a boy. They sit under an oak tree.]
    Tityrus The sun doth beat upon the plain fields. Wherefore let us sit down, Galatea, under this fair oak, by whose broad leaves being defended from the warm beams we may enjoy the fresh air, which softly breathes from Humber floods.
    Galathea Father, you have devised well. And whilst our flock doth roam up and 20down this pleasant green, you shall recount to me, if it please you, for what cause this tree was dedicated unto Neptune, and why you have thus disguised me.
    Tityrus I do agree thereto, and, when thy state and my care be considered, thou shalt know this question was not asked in vain.
    Galathea I willingly attend.
    Tityrus In times past, where thou see'st a heap of small pebble stood a 25stately temple of white marble, which was dedicated to the God of the Sea, and in right, being so near the sea. Hither came all such as either ventured by long travel to see countries or by great traffic to use merchandise, offering sacrifice by fire to get safety by water, yielding thanks for perils past and making prayers for good success to come. But Fortune, constant in nothing but inconstancy, did change her copy, as the people their custom; for, the land being oppressed 30by Danes -- who instead of sacrifice committed sacrilege, instead of religion rebellion, and made a prey of that in which they should have made their prayers, tearing down the temple even with the earth, being almost equal with the skies -- enraged so the god who binds the winds in the hollows of the earth that he caused the seas to break their bounds sith men had broke their vows, and to swell as far above their reach as men had swerved beyond 35their reason. Then might you see ships sail where sheep fed, anchors cast where ploughs go, fishermen throw their nets where husbandmen sow their corn, and fishes throw their scales where fowls do breed their quills. Then might you gather froth where now is dew, rotten weeds for sweet roses, and take view of monstrous mermaids instead of passing fair maids.
    Galathea To hear these sweet marvels I would mine eyes were turned also into ears.
    Tityrus But at the last our countrymen repenting, and not too late, because at 40last Neptune, either weary of his wroth or wary to do them wrong, upon condition consented to ease their miseries.
    Galathea What condition will not miserable men accept?
    Tityrus The condition was this: that at every five years' day, the fairest and chastest virgin in all the country should be brought unto this tree, and, here being bound (whom 45neither parentage shall excuse for honor, nor virtue for integrity), is left for a peace-offering unto Neptune.
    Galathea Dear is the peace that is bought with guiltless blood.
    Tityrus I am not able to say that, but he sendeth a monster called the Agar, against whose coming the waters roar, the fowls fly away, and the cattle in the field for terror shun the banks.
    50Galathea And she bound to endure that horror?
    Tityrus And she bound to endure that horror.
    Galathea Doth this monster devour her?
    Tityrus Whether she be devoured of him, or conveyed to Neptune, or drowned between both, it is not permitted to know, and incurreth danger to conjecture. Now, Galatea, here endeth my 55tale and beginneth thy tragedy.
    Galathea Alas, father! And why so?
    Tityrus I would thou hadst been less fair or more fortunate. Then shouldst thou not repine that I have disguised thee in this attire, for thy beauty will make thee to be thought worthy of this god. To avoid therefore destiny (for wisdom ruleth the stars), I think 60it better to use an unlawful means, your honor preserved, than intolerable grief, both life and honor hazarded; and to prevent, if it be possible, thy constellation by my craft. Now hast thou heard the custom of this country, the cause why this tree was dedicated unto Neptune, and the vexing care of thy fearful father.
    Galathea. Father, I have been attentive to hear, and by your patience am ready to answer. Destiny may be deferred, not prevented; and therefore it were better to offer myself in 65triumph than to be drawn to it with dishonor. Hath nature (as you say) made me so fair above all, and shall not virtue make me as famous as others? Do you not know, or doth overcarefulness make you forget, that an honorable death is to be preferred before an infamous life? I am but a child, and have not lived long, and yet not so childish as I desire to live ever. Virtues I mean to carry to my grave, not gray hairs. I 70would I were as sure that destiny would light on me as I am resolved it could not fear me. Nature hath given me beauty, virtue courage; nature must yield me death, virtue honor. Suffer me therefore to die, for which I was born, or let me curse that I was born, sith I may not die for it.
    Tityrus Alas, Galatea, to consider the causes of change thou art too young, and 75that I should find them out for thee, too too fortunate.
    Galathea The destiny to me cannot be so hard as the disguising hateful.
    Tityrus To gain love, the gods have taken shapes of beasts, and to save life art thou coy to take the attire of men?
    Galathea They were beastly gods, that lust could make them seem as beasts.
    80Tityrus In health it is easy to counsel the sick, but it's hard for the sick to follow wholesome counsel. Well, let us depart. The day is far spent.