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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

From ‘Sejanus’

By Ben Jonson (1572–1637)

Scene: The Garden of Eudemus in Rome.Enter Sejanus, Livia, and Eudemus.

SEJANUS—Physician, thou art worthy of a province

For the great favors done unto our loves;

And but that greatest Livia bears a part

In the requital of thy services,

I should alone despair of aught like means

To give them worthy satisfaction.

Livia—Eudemus, I will see it, shall receive

A fit and full reward for his large merit.

But for this potion we intend to Drusus,—

No more our husband now,—whom shall we choose

As the most apt and abled instrument

To minister it to him?
Eudemus—I say, Lydgus.

Sejanus—Lydgus? what’s he?
Livia—An eunuch Drusus loves.

Eudemus—Ay, and his cup-bearer….

Sejanus—Send him to me; I’ll work him.—Royal lady,

Though I have loved you long, and with that height

Of zeal and duty, like the fire, which more

It mounts it trembles, thinking naught could add

Unto the fervor which your eye had kindled,—

Yet now I see your wisdom, judgment, strength,

Quickness and will to apprehend the means

To your own good and greatness, I protest

Myself through rarefied and turned all flame

In your affection: such a spirit as yours

Was not created for the idle second

To a poor flash, as Drusus; but to shine

Bright as the moon among the lesser lights,

And share the sovereignty of all the world.

Then Livia triumphs in her proper sphere,

When she and her Sejanus shall divide

The name of Cæsar, and Augusta’s star

Be dimmed with glory of a brighter beam;

When Agrippina’s fires are quite extinct,

And the scarce-seen Tiberius borrows all

His little light from us, whose folded arms

Shall make one perfect orb.

[Knocking within.]
Who’s that? Eudemus,

Look. ’Tis not Drusus, lady; do not fear.

[Exit Eudemus.]

Livia—Not I, my lord: my fear and love of him

Left me at once.
Sejanus—Illustrious lady, stay—

Eudemus[within]—I’ll tell his Lordship.

Re-enter Eudemus
Sejanus—Who is it, Eudemus?

Eudemus—One of your Lordship’s servants brings you word

The Emperor hath sent for you.
Sejanus—Oh, where is he?

With your fair leave, dear princess, I’ll but ask

A question, and return.[Exit.]
Eudemus—Fortunate princess!

How are you blest in the fruition

Of this unequaled man, the soul of Rome,

The Empire’s life, and voice of Cæsar’s world!

So blessèd, my Eudemus, as to know

The bliss I have, with what I ought to owe

The means that wrought it. How do I look to-day?

Eudemus—Excellent clear, believe it. This same fucus

Was well laid on.
Livia—Methinks ’tis here not white.

Eudemus—Lend me your scarlet, lady. ’Tis the sun

Hath given some little taint unto the ceruse;

You should have used of the white oil I gave you.

Sejanus, for your love! his very name

Commandeth above Cupid or his shafts—

[Paints her cheek.]

Livia—Nay, now you’ve made it worse.
Eudemus—I’ll help it straight—

And but pronounced, is a sufficient charm

Against all rumor; and of absolute power

To satisfy for any lady’s honor.

Livia—What do you now, Eudemus?
Eudemus—Make a light fucus,

To touch you o’er withal. Honored Sejanus!

What act, though ne’er so strange and insolent,

But that addition will at least bear out,

If’t do not expiate?
Livia—Here, good physician.

Eudemus—I like this study to preserve the love

Of such a man, that comes not every hour

To greet the world.—’Tis now well, lady, you should

Use of this dentifrice I prescribed you too,

To clear your teeth; and the prepared pomatum,

To smooth the skin. A lady cannot be

Too curious of her form, that still would hold

The heart of such a person, made her captive,

As you have his; who, to endear him more

In your clear eye, hath put away his wife,

The trouble of his bed, and your delights,

Fair Apicata, and made spacious room

To your new pleasures.
Livia—Have not we returned

That with our hate to Drusus, and discovery

Of all his counsels?
Eudemus—Yes, and wisely, lady.

The ages that succeed, and stand far off

To gaze at your high prudence, shall admire,

And reckon it an act without your sex:

It hath that rare appearance. Some will think

Your fortune could not yield a deeper sound

Than mixed with Drusus; but when they shall hear

That and the thunder of Sejanus meet,—

Sejanus, whose high name doth strike the stars,

And rings about the concave; great Sejanus,

Whose glories, style, and titles are himself,

The often iterating of Sejanus,—

They then will lose their thoughts, and be ashamed

To take acquaintance of them.

Re-enter Sejanus
Sejanus—I must take

A rude departure, lady: Cæsar sends

With all his haste both of command and prayer.

Be resolute in our plot: you have my soul,

As certain yours as it is my body’s.

And, wise physician, so prepare the poison,

As you may lay the subtle operation

Upon some natural disease of his;

Your eunuch send to me. I kiss your hands,

Glory of ladies, and commend my love

To your best faith and memory.
Livia—My lord,

I shall but change your words. Farewell. Yet this

Remember for your heed: he loves you not;

You know what I have told you; his designs

Are full of grudge and danger; we must use

More than a common speed.
Sejanus—Excellent lady,

How you do fire my blood!
Livia—Well, you must go?

The thoughts be best, are least set forth to show.[Exit Sejanus.]

Eudemus—When will you take some physic, lady?

I shall, Eudemus: but let Drusus’s drug

Be first prepared.