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Enter JUPITER and ALCMENA, from the house.
Kindly fare you well, Alcmena; take care, as you are doing, of our common interest, and pray be sparing of yourself; you see that now your months are completed. It's necessary for me to go away from here; but the offspring that shall be born do you bring up1. ALCMENA
What business is this, my husband, since you thus suddenly leave your home? JUPITER
By my troth, 'tis not that I am wearied of you or of my home; but when the chief commander is not with the army, that is sooner done which ought not to be done than that which needs to be done. MERCURY
aside . This is a very clever counterfeit, who really is my own father. To the AUDIENCE. Do you observe him, how blandly he smoothes the lady over. ALCMENA
I' faith, I find by experience how much you value your wife. JUPITER
If there is no one among women whom I love so much, are you satisfied? MERCURY
aside . Verily, upon my faith, if Juno only knew that you were giving your attention to such matters, I'd warrant that you'd rather be2 Amphitryon than Jupiter. ALCMENA
I would rather that I should find it so by experience, than that it should be told me. You leave me before the spot in the bed where.you have been lying has well grown warm. Yesterday, in the middle of the night, you came, and now you are going away. Is this your pleasure? MERCURY
aside . I'll approach, and address her, and play second fiddle to my father. He approaches ALCMENA. Never, upon my faith, do I believe that any mortal did so. distractedly love his wife as he distractedly dotes upon you. JUPITER
Scoundrel!--don't I know you of old? Won't you be off out of my sight? What business have you in this matter, whip-knave? or why your muttering? Whom this very instant, with this walking-stick, I'll---- Shakes his stick over his head. ALCMENA
Oh don't. JUPITER
Only make a whisper. MERCURY
aside . My first attempt at playing second fiddle had almost come to an unfortunate conclusion. JUPITER
But as to what you say, my wife, you ought not to be angry with me. I came away privately from the army: these moments I stole for you, that you the first might know from me the first, how I had managed the common interests. All this have I related to you. If I had not loved you very much, I should not have done so. MERCURY
aside . Isn't he doing just as I said? In her alarm, he is smoothing her down. JUPITER
That the army then mayn't find it out, I must return there privately, lest they should say that I have preferred my wife before the common interests. ALCMENA
By your departure you set your wife in tears. JUPITER
Be quiet; don't spoil your eyes: I'll return very shortly. ALCMENA
That "very shortly" is a long time. JUPITER
I do not with pleasure leave you here, or go away from you. ALCMENA
I am sensible of it; for, the night that you have come to me, on the same you go away. (She embraces him.) JUPITER
Why do you hold me? It is time to go: I wish to depart from the city before it dawns. Now, Alcmena, this goblet which has been given me there on account of my valour, from which king Pterelas used to drink, he whom I slew with my own hand, the same I present to you. Presents to her the goblet. ALCMENA
taking the goblet . You do as you are wont in other things. By heavens, it is a noble gift; like him who gave the gift. MERCURY
Aye, a noble gift; just like her to whom it has been given as a gift. JUPITER
What, still going on? Can't I, you scoundrel, make an end of you? ALCMENA
Amphitryon, there's a dear, don't be angry3 with Sosia on my account. JUPITER
Just as you wish I'll do. MERCURY
aside . From his intriguing, how very savage he does become! JUPITER
Do you wish for anything else? ALCMENA
That when I am absent you will love me--me, who am yours, though absent. MERCURY
Let's go, Amphitryon; it's already dawning. JUPITER
Go you first, Sosia. Exit MERCURY. I'll follow this instant. To ALCMENA. Is there anything you wish? ALCMENA
Yes; that you'll come back speedily. JUPITER
I will; and sooner than you expect will I be here therefore be of good heart. ALCMENA goes into the house. Now Night, thou who hast tarried for me, I permit these to give place to Day, that thou mayst shine upon mortals with a bright and brilliant light. And Night, as much as on this last thou wast too long, so much the shorter will I make the Day to be, that a Day of equal disparity may succeed the Night. I'll go and follow Mercury. (Exit.)
1 Do you bring up: "Tollito." It was a custom among the ancients for the new-born child to be laid on the ground, upon which it was taken up by the father, or such other person as intended to stand in the place of a parent to it. If it was not taken up, it was disowned, and left to starve. For this reason Jupiter makes this request of Alcmena.
2 You'd rather be: -511 "Edepol næ illa si istis rebus ne sciat operam dare, Ego faxim ted Amphitryonem malis esse quam Jovem." This passage has been differently rendered by Richter. He says that "illa," "she," refers to Alcmena, and not to Juno, as has been generally imagined, and that Mercury says these words aside, and, turning to the Audience, remarks, that if he were only to tell Alcmena that Jupiter is not the real Amphitryon, he would wish himself the real one, in preference to being Jupiter, and losing the lady. The translation in the text seems, however, to convey the real meaning of the passage. Probably, when using the word "illa," as applying to Juno, ha slily points upwards to the heavens.
3 Don't be angry: It has been justly remarked that the amiable and interesting character of Alcmena is not unlike that of Desdemona, in Shakspeare's Othello.
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