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Away, my friends, prepare the sacred rites.
[Exeunt CALIPPUs, &c.
Philotas, thou draw near: how fares your prisoner?
Has he yet breath’d his last?
Phil. Life ebbs apace;
To-morrow’s sun sees him a breathless corse.
Dio. Curse on his ling’ring pangs! Sicilia's crown
No more shall deck his brow; and if the sand
Still loiter in the glass, thy hand, my friend,
May shake it thence.
Phil. It shall, dread sir; that task
Leave to thy faithful servant.
Dio. Oh! Philotas,
Thou little know'st the cares, the pangs of empire,
The ermin'd pride, the purple that adorns
A conqueror's breast, but serves, my friend, to hide
A heart that’s torn, that's mangled with remorse.
Each object round me wakens horrid doubts;
The flatt’ring train, the sentinel that guards me,
The slave that waits, all give some new alarm,
And from the means of safety dangers rise.
Ev’n victory itself plants anguish here,
And round my laurels the fell serpent twines.
Phil. Would Dionysius abdicate his crown,
And sue for terms of peace?
Dio. Detested thought ! .
No, though ambition teem with countless ills,
It still has charms of pow'r to fire the soul.
Though horrors multiply around my head,
I will oppose them all. The pomp of sacrifice
But now ordain'd, is mockery to Heav'n.
'Tis vain, 'tis fruitless; then let daring guilt
Be my inspirer, and consummate all.
Where are those Greeks, the captives of my sword,
Whose desp'rate valour rush’d within our walls,
Fought near our person, and the pointed lance
Aim'd at my breast :
Phil. In chains they wait their doom.
Dio. Give me to see 'em; bring the slaves before Ine.
Phil. What, ho! Melanthon, this way lead your prisoners.
Enter MELANTHoN, with GREEK OFFICERs and SOLDIERs.
Dio. Assassins, and not warriors do ye come, When the wide range of battle claims your sword, Thus do you come against a single life To wage the war? Did not our buckler ring With all your darts, in one collected volley, Shower'd on my head Did not your swords at once Point at my breast, and thirst for regal blood G. Off. We sought thy life. I am by birth a Greek. An open foe in arms, I meant to slay The foe of human kind. With rival ardour We took the field; one voice, one mind, one heart; All leagu'd, all covenanted: in yon camp Spirits there are who aim, like us, at glory. Whene'er you sally forth, whene'er the Greeks Shall scale your walls, prepare thee to encounter A like assault. By me the youth of Greece Thus notify the war they mean to wage. Dio. Thus, then, I warn them of my great revenge. Whoe'er in battle shall become our pris’ner, In torment meets his doom. G. Off. Then wilt thou see How vile the body to a mind that pants For genuine glory. Twice three hundred Greeks Have sworn, like us, to hunt thee through the ranks; Ours the first lot; we've fail'd; on yonder plain Appear in arms, the faithful band will meet thee. Dio. Vile slave, no more. Melanthon, drag 'em hence To die in misery. Impal'd alive, The winds shall parch them on the craggy cliff.
Selected from the rest, let one depart
A messenger to Greece, to tell the fate
Her chosen sons, her first adventurers, met.
- [Erit Dionysius.
Mel. Unhappy men! how shall my care protect
Your forfeit lives 2 Philotas, thou conduct them
To the deep dungeon's gloom. In that recess,
Midst the wild tumult of eventful war,
We may ward off the blow. My friends, farewell:
That officer will guide your steps.
[All follow PhilotAs, except Phocion.
Phoc. Satisfy my doubts; how fares Euphrasia?
Mcl. Euphrasia lives, and fills the anxious mo-
With every virtue. Wherefore venture thither?
Why with rash valour penetrate our gates ?
Phoc. Could l refrain? Oh! could I tamely wait
Th' event of ling’ring war? With patience count
The lazy-pacing hours, while here in Syracuse
The tyrant keeps all that my heart holds dear?
For her dear sake all danger sinks before me;
For her I burst the barriers of the gate,
Where the deep cavern'd rock affords a passage:
A hundred chosen Greeks pursu'd my steps.
We forc’d an entrance; the devoted guard
Fell victims to our rage; but in that moment
Down from the walls superior numbers came.
The tyrant led them on. We rush’d upon him,
If we could reach his heart, to end the war.
But Heav'n thought otherwise. Melanthon, say,+
I fear to ask it, lives Evander still 2
Mel. Alas, he lives imprison'd in the rock.
Thou must withdraw thee hence; regain once more
Timoleon's camp; alarm his slumb'ring rage;
Assail the walls; thou with thy phalanx seek
The subterraneous path; that way at night
The Greeks may enter, and let in destruction
On the astonish'd foe.
Phoc. By Heav'n I will!
My breath shall wake his rage: this very night
When sleep sits heavy on the slumb'ring city,
Then Greece unsheaths her sword, and great revenge
Shall stalk with death and horror o'er the ranks
Of slaughter'd troops, a sacrifice to freedom!
But first let me behold Euphrasia.
Thy pent-up valour: to a secret haunt
I'll guide thy steps; there dwell, and in apt time
I'll bring Euphrasia to thy longing arms.
Phoc. Oh! lead me to her; that exalted virtue With firmer nerve shall bid me grasp the javelin; Shall bid my sword with more than lightning's swift
Blaze in the front of war, and glut its rage
With blow repeated in the tyrant's veins. [Exeunt.
A Temple, with a Monument in the Middle.
Enter EUPHRASIA, ERIxENE, and other Female Attendants. Eup. This way, my virgins, this way bend your steps. Lo the sad sepulchre, where, hears'd in death, The pale remains of my dear mother lie. There, while the victims at yon altar bleed, And with your pray'rs the vaulted roof resounds, There let me pay the tribute of a tear, A weeping pilgrim o'er Eudocia’s ashes. Eric. Forbear, Euphrasia, to renew your sorrows. Eup. My tears have dried their source; then let me here Pay this sad visit to the honour'd clay
That moulders in the tomb. These sacred viands
I'll burn, an offering to a parent's shade,
And sprinkle with this wine the hallow'd mould.
That duty paid, I will return, my virgins.
[She goes into the Tomb.
Eric. Look down, propitious powrs! behold that
And heal the pangs that desolate her soul.
Phil. Mourn, mourn, ye virgins; rend your scat-
ter'd garments; -
Some dread calamity hangs o'er our heads,
In vain the tyrant would appease with sacrifice
Th’ impending wrath of ill-requited Heav'n,
Ill omens hover o'er us : at the altar
The victim dropp'd, ere the divining seer
Had gor'd his knife. The brazen statues tremble,
And from the marble drops of blood distil.
Eric. Now, ye just gods, if vengeance you prepare, Now find the guilty head.
Enter EUPHRASIA from the Tomb. Eup. Virgins, I thank you—Oh! more lightly 110 W My heart expands; the pious act is done, And I have paid my tribute toaparent. [Ereunt Virgins. Ah! whither does the tyrant bend his way? Phil. He flies the altar; leaves th' unfinish'd rites. No god there smiles propitious on his cause. Tate lifts the awful balance; weighs his life, The lives of numbers, in the trembling scale. Eup. Despair and horror mark his haggard looks. Do you retire, Retire Philotas; let me here remain, And give the moments of suspended fate To pious worship and to filial love.