Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • 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] Augur, Melibeus, Tityrus, [and] Populus.
    This is the day wherein you must satisfy Neptune and save yourselves. Call together your fair daughters, and for a sacrifice take the fairest; for better it is to offer a virgin than suffer ruin. If you think it against nature to sacrifice your children, think it 700also against sense to destroy your country. If you imagine Neptune pitiless to desire such a prey, confess yourselves perverse to deserve such a punishment. You see this tree, this fatal tree, whose leaves, though they glister like gold, yet it threateneth to fair virgins grief. To this tree must the beautifullest be bound until the monster Agar carry her away, and, if the monster come not, then assure yourselves that the fairest is concealed; and then your country shall be destroyed. Therefore consult with 705yourselves, not as fathers of children, but as favorers of your country. Let Neptune have his right if you will have your quiet. Thus have I warned you to be careful, and would wish you to be wise, knowing that whoso hath the fairest daughter hath the greatest fortune, in losing one to save all. And so I depart to provide ceremonies for the sacrifice, and command you to bring the sacrifice.
    Exit Augur.
    They say, Tityrus, that you have a fair daughter. If it be so, 710dissemble not, for you shall be a fortunate father. It is a thing holy to preserve one's country, and honorable to be the cause.
    Indeed, Melibeus, I have heard you boast that you had a fair daughter, than the which none was more beautiful. I hope you are not so careful of a child that you will be careless of your country, or add so much to nature that you will 715detract from wisdom.
    I must confess that I had a daughter, and I know you have; but alas! My child's cradle was her grave and her swath-clout her winding sheet. I would she had lived till now. She should willingly have died now; for what could have happened to poor Melibeus more comfortable than to be the father of a fair child and sweet country?
    Oh, Melibeus, dissemble you may with men; deceive the gods you cannot. Did not I see (and very lately see) your daughter in your arms, whenas you gave her infinite kisses with affection I fear me more then fatherly? You have conveyed her away that you might cast us all away, bereaving her the honor of her beauty and us the benefit, preferring a common inconvenience before a private mischief.
    It is a bad cloth, Tityrus, that will take no color, and a simple father that can use no cunning. You make the people believe that you wish well when you practice nothing but ill, wishing to be thought religious towards the gods when I know you deceitful towards men. You cannot overreach me, Tityrus; overshoot yourself you may. It is a wily mouse that will breed in the cat's ear, and he must halt cunningly that will deceive a cripple. 730Did you ever see me kiss my daughter? You are deceived; it was my wife. And if you thought so young a piece unfit for so old a person, and therefore imagined it to be my child, not my spouse, you must know that silver hairs delight in golden locks, and the old fancies crave young nurses, and frosty years must be thawed by youthful fires. But this matter set aside, you have a fair daughter, Tityrus, and it is pity you are so fond a father.
    You are both either too fond or too froward, for, whilst you dispute to save your daughters, we neglect to prevent our destruction.
    Come, let us away and seek out a sacrifice. We must sift out their cunning, and let them shift for themselves.