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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)

    935[Enter] Augur [and] Ericthinis.
    Bring forth the virgin, the fatal virgin, the fairest virgin, if you mean to appease Neptune and preserve your country.
    Ericthinis. Here she cometh, accompanied only with men, because it is a sight unseemly (as all virgins say) to see the misfortune of a maiden, and terrible to behold the fierceness of Agar the monster.
    940[Enter Hebe, with other, to the sacrifice.
    [She is bound to the tree.]
    Miserable and accursed Hebe, that, being neither fair nor fortunate, thou shouldst be thought most happy and beautiful! Curse thy birth, thy life, thy death, being born to live in danger and, having lived, to die by deceit. Art thou the sacrifice to appease Neptune and satisfy 945the custom, the bloody custom, ordained for the safety of thy country? Ay, Hebe, poor Hebe: men will have it so, whose forces command our weak natures. Nay, the gods will have it so, whose powers dally with our purposes. The Egyptians never cut their dates from the tree, because they are so fresh and green; it is thought wickedness to pull roses from the stalks in the garden of Palestine, for that they have so lively a red; and whoso cutteth the incense tree 950in Arabia before it fall committeth sacrilege.
    Shall it only be lawful amongst us in the prime of youth and pride of beauty to destroy both youth and beauty, and what was honored in fruits and flowers as a virtue to violate in a virgin as a vice? But alas! Destiny alloweth no dispute. Die, Hebe, Hebe, die! Woeful Hebe, and only accursed Hebe! Farewell the sweet delights of life, and 955welcome now the bitter pangs of death! Farewell, you chaste virgins, whose thoughts are divine, whose faces fair, whose fortunes are agreeable to your affections! Enjoy, and long enjoy, the pleasure of your curled locks, the amiableness of your wished looks, the sweetness of your tuned voices, the content of your inward thoughts, the pomp of your outward shows. Only Hebe biddeth farewell to all the joys that she conceived and you hope for, that she possessed and you shall. Farewell, the pomp of princes' 960courts, whose roofs are embossed with gold and whose pavements are decked with fair ladies; where the days are spent in sweet delights, the nights in pleasant dreams; where chastity honoreth affections and commandeth, yieldeth to desire and conquereth!
    Farewell, the sovereign of all virtue and goddess of all virgins, Diana, whose perfections are impossible to be numbered and therefore infinite, never to be matched and therefore immortal! Farewell, 965sweet parents, yet, to be mine, unfortunate parents! How blessed had you been in barrenness! How happy had I been if I had not been! Farewell, life, vain life, wretched life, whose sorrows are long, whose end doubtful, whose miseries certain, whose hopes innumerable, whose fears intolerable! Come, Death, and welcome, Death, whom nature cannot resist, because necessity ruleth, nor defer because destiny hasteth! Come, Agar, thou unsatiable monster of maidens' blood and devourer of beauty's bowels. Glut thyself till thou surfeit, and let my 970life end thine. Tear these tender joints with thy greedy jaws, these yellow locks with thy black feet, this fair face with thy foul teeth. Why abatest thou thy wonted swiftness? I am fair; I am a virgin; I am ready. Come, Agar, thou horrible monster, and farewell, world, thou viler monster![They wait, but no monster comes.]
    The monster is not come, and therefore I see Neptune is abused, whose rage will, I fear me, be both infinite and intolerable. Take in this virgin, whose want of 975beauty hath saved her own life and [destroyed] all yours.
    We could not find any fairer.
    Neptune will. Go deliver her to her father.
    [Hebe is unbound.]
    Fortunate Hebe, how shalt thou express thy joys? Nay, unhappy girl, that art not the fairest. Had it not been better for thee to have died with fame than to 980live with dishonor, to have preferred the safety of thy country and rareness of thy beauty before sweetness of life and vanity of the world? But alas! Destiny would not have it so. Destiny could not, for it asketh the beautifullest. I would, Hebe, thou hadst been beautifullest.
    Come, Hebe, here is no time for us to reason. It had been best for us thou hadst been most beautiful.