The Two Noble Kinsmen
Act I, Scene 2
Thebes. The palace.
- Enter Palamon and Arcite.
Arcite1 - 12
- Dear Palamon, dearer in love than blood,
- And our prime cousin, yet unhard’ned in
- The crimes of nature—let us leave the city
- Thebes, and the temptings in’t, before we further
- Sully our gloss of youth:
- And here to keep in abstinence we shame
- As in incontinence; for not to swim
- I’ th’ aid o’ th’ current were almost to sink,
- At least to frustrate striving, and to follow
- The common stream, ’twould bring us to an eddy
- Where we should turn or drown; if labor through,
- Our gain but life and weakness.
Palamon13 - 27
- Your advice
- Is cried up with example. What strange ruins,
- Since first we went to school, may we perceive
- Walking in Thebes! Scars and bare weeds
- The gain o’ th’ martialist, who did propound
- To his bold ends honor and golden ingots,
- Which though he won, he had not; and now flurted
- By peace, for whom he fought, who then shall offer
- To Mars’s so scorn’d altar? I do bleed
- When such I meet, and wish great Juno would
- Resume her ancient fit of jealousy
- To get the soldier work, that peace might purge
- For her repletion, and retain anew
- Her charitable heart, now hard, and harsher
- Than strife or war could be.
Arcite28 - 33
- Are you not out?
- Meet you no ruin but the soldier in
- The cranks and turns of Thebes? You did begin
- As if you met decays of many kinds.
- Perceive you none that do arouse your pity
- But th’ unconsider’d soldier?
Palamon34 - 37
- Yes, I pity
- Decays where e’er I find them, but such most
- That sweating in an honorable toil
- Are paid with ice to cool ’em.
Arcite38 - 46
- ’Tis not this
- I did begin to speak of. This is virtue
- Of no respect in Thebes. I spake of Thebes,
- How dangerous, if we will keep our honors,
- It is for our residing; where every evil
- Hath a good color; where ev’ry seeming good’s
- A certain evil; where not to be ev’n jump
- As they are, here were to be strangers, and
- Such things to be, mere monsters.
Palamon47 - 67
- ’Tis in our power
- (Unless we fear that apes can tutor’s) to
- Be masters of our manners. What need I
- Affect another’s gait, which is not catching
- Where there is faith? Or to be fond upon
- Another’s way of speech, when by mine own
- I may be reasonably conceiv’d; sav’d too,
- Speaking it truly? Why am I bound
- By any generous bond to follow him
- Follows his tailor, haply so long until
- The follow’d make pursuit? Or let me know
- Why mine own barber is unblest, with him
- My poor chin too, for ’tis not scissor’d just
- To such a favorite’s glass? What canon is there
- That does command my rapier from my hip,
- To dangle’t in my hand, or to go tiptoe
- Before the street be foul? Either I am
- The forehorse in the team, or I am none
- That draw i’ th’ sequent trace. These poor slight sores
- Need not a plantin; that which rips my bosom
- Almost to th’ heart’s—
- Our uncle Creon.
Palamon69 - 81
- A most unbounded tyrant, whose successes
- Makes heaven unfear’d, and villainy assured
- Beyond its power there’s nothing; almost puts
- Faith in a fever, and deifies alone
- Voluble chance; who only attributes
- The faculties of other instruments
- To his own nerves and act; commands men service,
- And what they win in’t, boot and glory; one
- That fears not to do harm; good, dares not. Let
- The blood of mine that’s sib to him be suck’d
- From me with leeches! Let them break and fall
- Off me with that corruption!
Arcite82 - 87
- Clear-spirited cousin,
- Let’s leave his court, that we may nothing share
- Of his loud infamy; for our milk
- Will relish of the pasture, and we must
- Be vile, or disobedient—not his kinsmen
- In blood unless in quality.
Palamon88 - 93
- Nothing truer.
- I think the echoes of his shames have deaf’d
- The ears of heav’nly justice. Widows’ cries
- Descend again into their throats, and have not
- Due audience of the gods.
- Enter Valerius.
Valerius94 - 98
- The King calls for you; yet be leaden-footed
- Till his great rage be off him. Phoebus, when
- He broke his whipstock and exclaim’d against
- The horses of the sun, but whisper’d, to
- The loudness of his fury.
Palamon99 - 100
- Small winds shake him.
- But what’s the matter?
Valerius101 - 104
- Theseus (who where he threats appalls) hath sent
- Deadly defiance to him, and pronounces
- Ruin to Thebes; who is at hand to seal
- The promise of his wrath.
Arcite105 - 110
- Let him approach.
- But that we fear the gods in him, he brings not
- A jot of terror to us. Yet what man
- Thirds his own worth (the case is each of ours),
- When that his action’s dregg’d with mind assur’d
- ’Tis bad he goes about.
Palamon111 - 116
- Leave that unreason’d.
- Our services stand now for Thebes, not Creon.
- Yet to be neutral to him were dishonor;
- Rebellious to oppose; therefore we must
- With him stand to the mercy of our fate,
- Who hath bounded our last minute.
Arcite117 - 119
- So we must.
- Is’t said this war’s afoot? Or it shall be,
- On fail of some condition?
Valerius120 - 122
- ’Tis in motion,
- The intelligence of state came in the instant
- With the defier.
Palamon123 - 129
- Let’s to the King, who were he
- A quarter carrier of that honor which
- His enemy come in, the blood we venture
- Should be as for our health, which were not spent,
- Rather laid out for purchase. But alas,
- Our hands advanc’d before our hearts, what will
- The fall o’ th’ stroke do damage?
Arcite130 - 133
- Let th’ event,
- That never-erring arbitrator, tell us
- When we know all ourselves, and let us follow
- The becking of our chance.