Hero and Leander (Marlowe)/Fifth Sestiad




The Argument of the Fifth Sestyad.

Day doubles her accustom'd date,
As loth the night, incens'd by fate,
Should wrack our lovers; Hero's plight,
Longs for Leander, and the night:
Which, ere her thirsty wish recovers,
She sends for two betrothed lovers,
And marries them, that, with their crew
Their sports and ceremonies due,
She covertly might celebrate,
With secret joy, her own estate.
She makes a feast, at which appears
The wild nymph Teras[1], that still bears
An ivory lute, tells ominous tales,
And sings at solemn festivals.




Now was bright Hero weary of the day,
Thought an Olympiad in Leander's stay.
Sol, and the soft-foot Hours hung on his arms,
And would not let him swim, foreseeing his harms:
That day Aurora double grace obtain'd
Of her love Phœbus; she his horses rein'd,
Sat on his golden knee, and as she list
She pull'd him back; and as she pull'd, she kiss'd
To have him turn to bed; he lov'd her more,
To see the love Leander Hero bore.
Examples profit much, ten times in one,
In persons full of note, good deeds are done.

Day was so long, men walking fell asleep;
The heavy humours that their eyes did steep

Made them fear mischiefs. The hard streets were beds
For covetous churls, and for ambitious heads,
That spite of Nature would their business ply:
All thought they had the falling epilepsy,
Men grovell'd so upon the smother'd ground,
And pity did the heart of Heaven confound.
The Gods, the Graces, and the Muses came
Down to the Destinies, to stay the frame
Of the true lovers' deaths, and all world's tears:
But Death before had stopp'd their cruel ears.
All the Celestials parted mourning then,
Pierc'd with our human miseries more than men.
Ah! nothing doth the world with mischief fill,
But want of feeling one another's ill.

With their descent the day grew something fair,
And cast a brighter robe upon the air.
Hero, to shorten time with merriment,
For young Alcmane and bright Mya[2] sent,
Two lovers that had long crav'd marriage dues
At Hero's hands: but she did still refuse,
For lovely Mya was her consort vow'd
In her maid state, and therefore not allow'd

To amorous nuptials: yet fair Hero now
Intended to dispense with her cold vow,
Since hers was broken, and to marry her:
The rites would pleasing matter minister
To her conceits, and shorten tedious day.—
They came; sweet music usher'd th' odorous way,
And wanton Air in twenty sweet forms danc'd
After her fingers; Beauty and Love advanc'd
Their ensigns in the downless rosy faces
Of youths and maids, led after by the Graces.
For all these Hero made a friendly feast,
Welcom'd them kindly, did much love protest,
Winning their hearts with all the means she might,
That when her fault should chance t' abide the light,
Their loves might cover or extenuate it,
And high in her worst fate make pity sit.

She married them, and in the banquet came
Borne by the virgins: Hero strove to frame
Her thoughts to mirth. Aye me! but hard it is
To imitate a false and forced bliss.
Ill may a sad mind forge a merry face,
Nor hath constrained laughter any grace.

Then laid she wine on cares to make them sink;
Who fears the threats of fortune let him drink.

To these quick nuptials enter'd suddenly
Admired Teras with the ebon thigh;
A nymph that haunted the green Sestian groves,
And would consort soft virgins in their loves,
At gaysome triumphs, and on solemn days
Singing prophetic elegies and lays:
And fing'ring of a silver lute, she tied
With black and purple scarfs by her left side.
Apollo gave it, and her skill withal,
And she was term'd his dwarf, she was so small:
Yet great in virtue, for his beams inclos'd
His virtues in her: never was propos'd
Riddle to her, or augury, strange or new,
Bat she resolv'd it: never slight tale flew
From her charm'd lips, without important sense,
Shown in some grave succeeding consequence.

This little Sylvan, with her songs and tales,
Gave such estate to feasts and nuptials,
That though ofttimes she forewent tragedies,
Yet for her strangeness still she pleas'd their eyes;

And for her smallness they admir'd her so,
They thought her perfect born, and could not grow.

All eyes were on her: Hero did command
An altar deck'd with sacred state should stand
At the feast's upper end, close by the bride,
On which the pretty nymph might sit espied.
Then all were silent; every one so hears,
As all their senses climb'd into their ears:
And first this amorous tale, that fitted well
Fair Hero and the nuptials, she did tell:

the tale of teras.

Hymen, that now is god of nuptial rites,
And crowns with honour Love and his delights,
Of Athens was; a youth so sweet of face,
That many thought him of the female race:
Such quick'ning brightness did his clear eyes dart,
Warm went their beams to his beholder's heart.
In such pure leagues his beauties were combin'd,
That there your nuptial contracts first were sign'd.
For as proportion, white and crimson, meet
In beauty's mixture, all right clear, and sweet,

The eye responsible, the golden hair,
And none is held without the other, fair:
All spring together, all together fade;
Such intermix'd affection should invade
Two perfect lovers: which being yet unseen,
Their virtues and their comforts copied been
In beauty's concord, subject to the eye,
And that, in Hymen, pleas'd so matchlessly,
That lovers were esteem'd in their full grace,
Like form and colour mix'd in Hymen's face;
And such sweet concord was thought worthy then
Of torches, music, feasts, and greatest men:
So Hymen look'd, that e'en the chastest mind
He mov'd to join in joys of sacred kind:
For only now his chin's first down consorted
His head's rich fleece, in golden curls contorted;
And as he was so lov'd, he lov'd so too,
So should best beauties, bound by nuptials, do.

Bright Eucharis, who was by all men said
The noblest, fairest, and the richest maid
Of all th' Athenian damsels, Hymen lov'd
With such transmission, that his heart remov'd
From his white breast to hers; but her estate,
In passing his, was so interminate

For wealth and honour, that his love durst feed
On naught but sight and hearing, nor could breed
Hope of requital, the grand prize of love;
Nor could he hear or see, but he must prove
How his rare beauty's music would agree
With maids in consort; therefore robbed he
His chin of those same few first fruits it bore,
And, clad in such attire as virgins wore,
He kept them company, and might right well,
For he did all but Eucharis excel
In all the fair of beauty: yet he wanted
Virtue to make his own desires implanted
In his dear Eucharis; for women never
Love beauty in their sex, but envy ever.
His judgment yet, that durst not suit address,
Nor, past due means, presume of due success,
Reason gat fortune in the end to speed
To his best prayers: but strange it seem'd, indeed,
That Fortune should a chaste affection bless:
Preferment seldom graceth bashfulness.
Nor grac'd it Hymen yet; but many a dart,
And many an amorous thought, enthrall'd his heart,
Ere he obtain'd her; and he sick became,
Forc'd to abstain her sight; and then the flame

Raged in his bosom. O what grief did fill him!
Sight made him sick, and want of sight did kill him.
The virgins wonder'd where Diætia staid,
For so did Hymen term himself a maid:
At length with sickly looks he greeted them:
'Tis strange to see 'gainst what an extreme stream
A lover strives; poor Hymen look'd so ill,
That as in merit he increased still,
By suffering much, so he in grace decreas'd.
Women are most won, when men merit least:
If Merit look not well, Love bids stand by;
Love's special lesson is to please the eye.
And Hymen soon recovering all he lost,
Deceiving[3] still these maids, but himself most.
His love and he with many virgin dames,
Noble by birth, noble by beauty's flames,
Leaving the town with songs and hallow'd lights,
To do great Ceres Eleusina rites
Of zealous sacrifice, were made a prey
To barbarous rovers that in ambush lay,
And with rude hand enforc'd their shining spoil,
Far from the darken'd city, tir'd with toil.
And when the yellow issue of the sky
Came trooping forth, jealous of cruelty

To their bright fellows of this under heaven,
Into a double night they saw them driven;
A horrid cave, the thieves' black mansion,
Where, weary of the journey they had gone,
Their last night's watch, and drunk with their sweet gains,
Dull Morpheus enter'd, laden with silken[4] chains
Stronger than iron, and bound the swelling veins
And tired senses of these lawless swains.
But when the virgin lights thus dimly burn'd;
O what a hell was heaven in! how they mourn'd
And wrung their hands, and wound their gentle forms
Into the shapes of sorrow! golden storms
Fell from their eyes: as when the sun appears,
And yet it rains, so show'd their eyes their tears.
And as when funeral dames watch a dead corse,
Weeping about it, telling with remorse
What pains he felt, how long in pain he lay,
How little food he eat, what he would say;
And then mix mournful tales of others' deaths,
Smothering themselves in clouds of their own breaths;
At length, one cheering other, call for wine,—
The golden bowl drinks tears out of their eyne,

As they drink wine from it; and round it goes,
Each helping other to relieve their woes:
So cast these virgins' beauties mutual rays[5],
One lights another, face the face displays;
Lips by reflection kiss'd, and hands hands shook,
E'en by the whiteness each of other took.

But Hymen now us'd friendly Morpheus' aid,
Slew every thief, and rescued every maid.
And now did his enamour'd passion take
Heart from his hearty deed, whose worth did make
His hope of bounteous Eucharis more strong;
And now came Love with Proteus, who had long
Juggled the little god with prayers and gifts,
Ran through all shapes, and varied all his shifts,
To win Love's stay with him, and make him love him;
And when he saw no strength of sleight could move him
To make him love, or stay, he nimbly turn'd
Into Love's self, he so extremely burn'd.
And thus came Love with Proteus and his power,
T' encounter Eucharis: first like the flower,
That Juno's milk dig spring—the silver lily.
He fell on Hymen's hand, who straight did spy

The bounteous Godhead, and with wondrous joy
Offer'd it Eucharis. She wondrous coy
Drew back her hand: the subtle flower did woo it,
And drawing it near, mix'd so you could not know it.
As two clear tapers mix in one their light,
So did the lily and the hand their white:
She view'd it; and her view the form bestows
Amongst her spirits: for as colour flows
From superficies of each thing we see,
E'en so with colours forms emitted be:
And where Love's form is, Love is; Love is form;
He enter'd at the eye, his sacred storm
Rose from the hand, Love's swectest instrument:
It stirr'd her blood's sea so, that high it went,
And beat in bashful waves 'gainst the white shore
Of her divided cheeks; it rag'd the more,
Because the tide went 'gainst the haughty wind
Of her estate and birth: and as we find,
In fainting ebbs, the flowery Zephyr hurls
The green hair'd Hellespont, broke in silver curls,
'Gainst Hero's tower: but in his blast's retreat,
The waves obeying him, they after beat,
Leaving the chalky shore a great way pale,
Then moist it freshly with another gale:

So ebb'd and flow'd in Eucharis's face,
Coyness and Love striv'd which had greatest grace:
Virginity did fight on Coyness' side,
Fear of her parents' frowns, and female pride
Loathing the lower place, more than it loves
The high contents desert and virtue moves.
With Love fought Hymen's beauty. and his valure,
Which scarce could so much favour[6] yet allure
To come to strike, but fameless idle stood,
Action is fiery valour's sovereign good.
But Love once enter'd, wish'd no greater aid
Than he could find within; thought, thought betray'd;
The brib'd, but incorrupted garrison,
Sung Io Hymen; there those songs begun,
And Love was grown so rich with such a gain,
And wanton with the ease of his free reign,
That he would turn into her roughest frowns
To turn them out; and thus he Hymen crowns
King of his thoughts, man's greatest empery:
This was his first brave step to deity.

Home to the mourning city they repair,
With news as wholesome as the morning air,

To the sad parents of each saved maid:—
But Hymen and his Eucharis had laid
This plot, to make the flame of their delight
Round as the moon at full, and full as bright.

Because the parents of chaste Eucharis
Exceeding Hymen's so, might cross their bliss;
And as the world rewards deserts, that law
Cannot assist with force, so when they saw
Their daughter safe, take 'vantage of their own,
Praise Hymen's valour much, nothing bestown,
Hymen must leave the virgins in a grove
Far off from Athens, and go first to prove,
If to restore them all with fame and life,
He should enjoy his dearest as his wife.
This told to all the maids; the[7] most agree:
The riper sort knowing what 'tis to be
The first mouth of a news so far deriv'd,
And that to hear and bear news brave folks liv'd,
As being a carriage special hard to bear
Occurrents, these occurrents being so dear,
They did with grace protest, they were content
T' accost their friends with all their compliment,

For Hymen's good: but to incur their harm,
There he must pardon them. This wit went warm
To Adolesche's[8] brain, a nymph born high,
Made all of voice and fire, that upwards fly:
Her heart and all her forces' nether train,
Climb'd to her tongue, and thither fell her brain,
Since it could go no higher: and it must go,
All powers she had, even her tongue, did so.
In spirit and quickness she much joy did take,
And lov'd her tongue, only for quickness' sake,
And she would haste and tell. The rest all stay,
Hymen goes one [9]: the nymph another way:
And what became of her I'll tell at last:—
Yet take her visage now:—moist lipp'd, long fac'd,
Thin like an iron wedge, so sharp and tart,
As 'twere of purpose made to cleave Love's heart.
Well were this lovely beauty rid of her,
And Hymen did at Athens now prefer
His welcome suit, which he with joy aspir'd:
A hundred princely youths with him retir'd
To fetch the nymphs: chariots and music went,
And home they came: Heaven with applauses rent.
The nuptials straight proceed, whilst all the town,
Fresh in their joys, might do them most renown.

First gold-lock'd Hymen did to church repair,
Like a quick off'ring burn'd in flames of hair.
And after, with a virgin firmament,
The godhead-proving bride attended went
Before them all, she look'd in her command,
As if form-giving Cypria's silver hand
Gript all their beauties, and crush'd out one flame;
She blush'd to see how beauty overcame
The thoughts of all men. Next before her went
Five lovely children, deck'd with ornament
Of her sweet colours, bearing torches by,
For light was held a happy augury
Of generation, whose efficient right
Is nothing else but to produce to light.
The odd disparent number they did choose,
To show the union married loves should use,
Since in two equal parts it will not sever,
But the midst holds one to rejoin it ever,
As common to both parts: men therefore deem,
That equal number gods do not esteem,
Being authors of sweet peace and unity,
But pleasing to th' infernal empery,
Under whose ensigns Wars and Discords fight,
Since an even number you may disunite

In two parts equal, nought in middle left,
To reunite each part from other rest:
And five they hold in most especial prize[10],
Since 'tis the first odd number that doth rise
From the two foremost numbers' unity,
That odd and even are; which are two and three,
For one no number is: but thence doth flow
The powerful race of number. Next did go
A noble matron, that did spinning bear
A housewife's rock and spindle, and did wear
A wether's skin, with all the snowy fleece,
To intimate that e'en the daintiest piece,
And noblest born dame should industrious be;
That which does good disgraceth no degree.

And now to Juno's temple they are come,
Where her grave priest stood in the marriage room:
On his right arm did hang a scarlet veil,
And from his shoulders to the ground did trail,
On either side, ribbands of white and blue;
With the red veil he hid the bashful hue
Of the chaste bride, to show the modest shame,
In coupling with a man, should grace a dame.

Then took he the disparent silks, and tied
The lovers by the waists, and side to side,
In token that thereafter they must bind
In one self sacred knot each other mind.
Before them on an altar he presented
Both fire and water, which was first invented,
Since to ingenerate every human creature,
And every other birth produc'd by nature,
Moisture and heat must mix: so man and wife
For human race must join in nuptial fife.
Then one of Juno's birds, the painted jay,
He sacrific'd, and took the gall away;
All which he did behind the altar throw,
In sign no bitterness of hate should grow,
'Twixt married loves, nor any least disdain.
Nothing they spake, for 'twas esteemed too plain
For the most silken mildness of a maid,
To let a public audience hear it said
She boldly took the man: and so respected
Was bashfulness in Athens: it erected
To chaste Agneia[11], which is shamefacedness,
A sacred temple, holding her a goddess.—
And now to feasts, masks, and triumphant shows,
The shining troops return'd, e'en till earth's throes

Brought forth with joy the thickest part of night,
When the sweet nuptial song that us'd to cite
All to their rest, was by Phemonöe[12] sung:
First Delphian prophetess, whose graces sprung
Out of the Muses:—well she sung before
The bride into her chamber, at which door
A matron and a torch-bearer did stand:
A painted box of comfits in her hand
The matron held, and so did other some
That compass'd round the honour'd nuptial room.
The custom was that every maid did wear,
During her maidenhead, a silken sphere
About her waist, above her inmost weed,
Knit with Minerva's knot, and that was freed
By the fair bridegroom on the marriage night,
With many ceremonies of delight:
And yet eternis'd Hymen's tender bride,
To suffer it dissolv'd, so sweetly cry'd.
The maids that heard, so lov'd and did adore her,
They wish'd with all their hearts to suffer for her.
So had the matrons, that with comfits stood
About the chamber, such affectionate blood,

And so true feeling of her harmless pains,
That every one a shower of comfits rains.
For which the bride-youths scrambling[13] on the ground,
In noise of that sweet hail her[14] cries were drown'd.
And thus bless'd Hymen joy'd his gracious bride,
And for his joy was after deified.
The saffron mirror by which Phœbus' love,
Green Tellus, decks her, now he held above
The cloudy mountains: and the noble maid,
Sharp-visag'd Adolesche, that was stray'd
Out of her way, in hasting with her news,
Not till this hour th' Athenian turrets views;
And now brought home by guides, she heard by all,
That her long kept occurrents would be stale,
And how fair Hymen's honours did excel
Far those rare news, which she came short to tell.
To hear her dear tongue robb'd of such a joy,
Made the well-spoken nymph take such a toy[15],
That down she sunk: when lightning from above,
Shrunk her lean body, and for mere free love,
Turn'd her into the pied-plum'd Psittacus,
That now the parrot is surnam'd by us,

Who still with counterfeit confusion prates
Nought but news common to the common'st mates.—
This told, strange Teras touch'd her lute, and sung
This ditty, that the torchy evening sprang.

epithalamion teratos.

Come, come, dear Night! Love's mart of kisses!
Sweet close of his[16] ambitious line,
The fruitful summer of his blisses,
Love's glory doth in darkness shine.
O come, soft rest of cares! come, Night!
Come, naked virtue's only tire,
The reaped[17] harvest of the light,
Bound up in sheaves of sacred fire.
Love calls to war,—
Sighs his alarms,
Lips his swords are,
The field his arms.

Come, Night, and lay thy velvet hand
On glorious Day's outfacing face;
And all thy crowned flames command,
For torches to our nuptial grace.

Love calls to war,—
Sighs his alarms,
Lips his swords are,
The field his arms.

No need have we of factious Day,
To cast, in envy of thy peace,
Her balls of discord in thy way:
Here Beauty's day doth never cease,
Day is abstracted here,
And varied in a triple sphere.
Hero, Alcmane, Mya, so outshine thee,
Ere thou come here let Thetis thrice refine thee.
Love calls to war,—
Sighs his alarms,
Lips his swords are,
The field his arms.

The evening star I see;
Rise, youths! the evening star
Helps Love to summon war,
Both now embracing be.

Rise, youths! Love's right claims more than banquets; rise!
Now the bright marygolds, that deck the skies,
Phœbus' celestial flowers, that, contrary
To his flowers here, ope when he shuts his eye,
And shuts when he doth open, crown your sports:
Now love in night, and night in love exhorts
Courtship and dances: all your parts employ,
And suit Night's rich expansure with your joy;
Love paints his longings in sweet virgins' eyes:
Rise, youths! Love's right claims more than banquets; rise!

Rise, virgins! let fair nuptial loves infold
Your fruitless breasts: the maidenheads ye hold
Are not your own alone, but parted are;
Part in disposing them your parents share,
And that a third part is: so must you save
Your loves a third, and you your thirds must have.
Love paints his longings in sweet virgins' eyes:
Rise, youths! Love's right claims more than banquets; rise!

Herewith the amorous spirit, that was so kind
To Teras' hair, and comb'd it down with wind,

Still as it, comet-like, brake from her brain,
Would needs have Teras gone, and did refrain
To blow it down: which staring up, dismay'd
The timorous feast, and she no longer staid;
But bowing to the bridegroom and the bride,
Did like a shooting exhalation glide
Out of their sights: the turning of her back
Made them all shriek, it look'd so ghastly black.
O hapless Hero! that most hapless cloud
Thy soon succeeding tragedy foreshow'd.—
Thus all the nuptial crew to joys depart,
But much wrung[18] Hero stood Hell's blackest dart:
Whose wound because I grieve so to display,
I use digressions thus to' increase the day.


  1. τέρας, portentum,
  2. Maia?
  3. deceived?
  4. silk, edit. 1637.
  5. So cast these virgins beauty's mortal rays. Edit. 1637.
  6. valure, edit. 1637, which makes one of Chapman's favourite jeu de
    mots between valure, worth, and valure, courage.
  7. they, edit. 1637.
  8. ἀδολεσχης, garrulus.
  9. on, edit. 1606.
  10. i.e. value.
  11. άγνεία, pudicitia.
  12. Vid. Pausau. l. x. c. 6.
  13. scrabling, edit. 1637.
  14. their, edit. 1606.
  15. i.e. sudden strange humour, or fancy.
  16. this, edit. 1637.
  17. That reapest, edit. 1637.
  18. much-rong, edit. 1606, much-wrong'd, edit. 1637