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For The Tragedy of Mariam, the Fair Queen of Jewry,Cary supplied an Argument to the play, but the modern reader may be better served by a succinct summary of the historical situation and the play. Observing the unity of time, Cary brings the pressure of antecedent events and incorporates materials from other parts of the Herod story (drawn chie?y from Josephus’s Antiquities) to heighten dra-matic tension. Before the play begins, Herod the Great, with the aid of Rome, has (in 39 B.C.E.) supplanted Hircanus, the hereditary king and priest of Judea, divorced his ?rst wife, Doris, and married Hircanus’s granddaughter, the sin-gularly beautiful Mariam, whom he loves with ?erce intensity and jealous pas-sion. To secure his throne he arranged a drowning to remove the new high priest, Mariam’s brother Aristobolus (35 B.C.E.), and had old Hircanus executed (30 B.C.E.). Cary’s play reverses these two events. Called to Rome to answer accusations leveled by Alexandra, the mother of Mariam and Aristobolus, Herod left orders with his uncle Josephus, who is also the husband of his sister Salome, to kill Mariam in the event of his death so no other man could possess her. Rein-stated as king, Herod had Josephus killed for telling Mariam about the decree for her death, taking that as evidence supporting Salome’s false charge that the two were lovers. He then married Salome to Constabarus, who, unknown to Herod, had hidden away the sons of Babas, under sentence of death for their opposition to Herod. The play begins with Herod again in Rome, in danger of death as a partisan of the defeated and recently deceased Mark Antony. Before departing, he had left with his officer Sohemus another order for Mariam to be killed in the event of his death; Sohemus also reveals the decree to her.

Act 1, Scene 1 starts as news comes of Herod’s death, causing (during three acts) a sense of relief, liberation, and new beginnings under the joint rule of Mariam and her mother, Alexandra (in the minority of Mariam’s son). Mariam is at ?rst torn between grief and joy but is relieved that the tyrant who mur-dered her kin and decreed her death will not return. Pheroras, Herod’s brother, who had been under command to marry an infant, now marries his true love, Graphina. The sons of Babas now come out of hiding to serve the state, and Constabarus is no longer in peril for having concealed them. Sohemus will not suffer for his decision to let Mariam live in de?ance of Herod’s command. Even those who regret Herod’s death bene?t from it: his sister Salome, who had ?rst plotted to have her second husband, Constabarus, killed by Herod so she might marry a new lover, now determines upon divorce instead—scandalous for a woman in Judea but hardly so wicked as murder.

At Herod’s unexpected return, all these hopeful new beginnings are crushed: Babas’s sons are executed; Sohemus is accused by Salome of adultery with Mariam and is executed for that (and for revealing Herod’s instructions); Mariam refuses Herod’s sexual advances and berates him for murdering her kin; Salome engineers a plot by which Mariam’s servant offers (supposedly from her) a cup of poison to Herod and then goads Herod to command her death. A messenger recounts the details of Mariam’s noble death, and Herod runs mad with grief and remorse, persuaded at last of her innocence and ines-timable worth.

In this play Mariam is positioned against several foils. One is the chorus, which in this kind of Senecan tragedy speak from a partial, not an authoritative,

vantage point: as a company of Jews, they judge Mariam by their own very con-servative notion of a wife’s duty, that she owes entire subjection of mind and body to her husband. Another is Salome, who speaks forcefully for a woman’s right to divorce and for evenhanded justice for unhappy wives—though she herself is thoroughly wicked, denouncing the innocent Mariam for marital in?-delity while she ?aunts her illicit affairs and has two husbands killed when she is ready to replace them. Mariam herself recognizes that she has brought her death on herself by refusing to live by the accepted female triad of virtues: she is chaste but manifestly not silent or obedient. Other foils to Mariam are Graphina, Doris, Alexandra, and—by allusion—Cleopatra. Mariam challenges patriarchal control within the institution of marriage, claiming a wife’s right to her own speech—public and private—as well as to the integrity of her own emotional life and self-de?nition.

The Tragedy of Mariam, The Fair Queen of Jewry

Written by that learned, virtuous, and truly noble lady, e.c.

The Names of the Speakers

HEROD, King of Judea GRAPHINA, his love

DORIS, his ?rst wife BABAS’FIRST SON

MARIAM, his second wife BABAS’SECOND SON

SALOME, HEROD’s sister ANANELL, the high priest ANTIPATER, his son by DORIS SOHEMUS, a counsellor to HEROD ALEXANDRA, MARIAM’s mother NUNTIO

SILLEUS, prince of Arabia SILLEUS’MAN

CONSTABARUS, husband to SALOME BU[TLER], another messenger SOLDIER PHERORAS, HEROD’s brother CHORUS, a company of Jews

Act 1

scene 11

[MARIAM alone.]

MARIAM How oft have I with public voice run on

To censure Rome’s last hero2for deceit:

Because he wept when Pompey’s life was gone,

Yet when he lived, he thought his name too great.

5But now I do recant, and, Roman lord,

Excuse too rash a judgment in a woman:

My sex pleads pardon, pardon then afford,

Mistaking is with us but too too common.

Now do I ?nd, by self-experience taught,

10One object yields both grief and joy:

You wept indeed, when on his worth you thought,

But joyed that slaughter did your foe destroy.

So at his death your eyes true drops did rain,

Whom dead, you did not wish alive again.

2/Elizabeth Cary

1.The ?rst edition, 1613, contains some obvious misprints here silently corrected.

2.Julius Caesar. At line 5 Mariam addresses the absent Caesar in apostrophe.

15When Herod lived, that now is done to death,

Oft have I wished that I from him were free:

Oft have I wished that he might lose his breath,

Oft have I wished his carcass dead to see.

Then rage and scorn had put my love to ?ight,

20That love which once on him was ?rmly set:

Hate hid his true affection from my sight,

And kept my heart from paying him his debt.

And blame me not, for Herod’s jealousy

Had power even constancy itself to change:

25For he, by barring me from liberty,

To shun°my ranging, taught me ?rst to range.prevent But yet too chaste a scholar was my heart,

To learn to love another than my lord:

To leave his love, my lesson’s former part,

30I quickly learned, the other I abhorred.

But now his death to memory doth call

The tender love that he to Mariam bare.°bore And mine to him; this makes those rivers fall,

Which by another thought unmoistened are.

35For Aristobulus, the lowliest youth3

That ever did in angel’s shape appear,

The cruel Herod was not moved to ruth;°pity Then why grieves Mariam Herod’s death to hear?

Why joy I not the tongue no more shall speak,

40That yielded forth my brother’s latest°doom:?nal Both youth and beauty might thy°fury break,Herod’s And both in him did ill be?t a tomb.

And, worthy grandsire,4ill did he requite

His high ascent, alone by thee procured,

45Except°he murdered thee to free the sprite°unless/spirit Which still he thought on earth too long immured.

How happy was it that Sohemus’mind

Was moved to pity my distressed estate!

Might Herod’s life a trusty servant ?nd,5

50My death to his had been unseparate.

These thoughts have power, his death to make me bear,

Nay more, to wish the news may ?rmly hold:

Yet cannot this repulse some falling tear,

That will against my will some grief unfold.

55And more I owe him for his love to me,

The deepest love that ever yet was seen:

Yet had I rather much a milkmaid be,

Than be the monarch of Judea’s queen.

It was for nought but love he wished his end

60Might to my death but the vaunt-courier°prove:forerunner But I had rather still be foe than friend,

To him that saves for hate, and kills for love.

Hard-hearted Mariam, at thy discontent

The Tragedy of Mariam/3

3.Some editors emend to “loveliest,” given the great emphasis on his beauty.

4.Mariam here addresses the murdered Hircanus.

5.I.e., if Herod alive had been able to ?nd trust-worthy servants to kill me, my death had been joined to his.

What ?oods of tears have drenched his manly face!

65How canst thou then so faintly now lament

They truest lover’s death, a death’s disgrace:6

Ay, now, mine eyes, you do begin to right

The wrongs of your admirer and my lord.7

Long since you should have put your smiles to ?ight,

70Ill doth a widowed eye with joy accord.

Why, now methinks the love I bare°him then,bore When virgin freedom left me unrestrained,

Doth to my heart begin to creep again,

My passion8now is far from being feigned.

75But, tears, ?y back, and hide you in your banks,9

You must not be to Alexandra seen:

For if my moan be spied, but little thanks

Shall Mariam have, from that incensèd queen.

scene 2


ALEXANDRA What means these tears? My Mariam

doth mistake,

80The news we heard did tell the tyrant’s end:

What°weep’st thou for thy brother’s murd’rer’s sake?why Will ever wight°a tear for Herod spend?person My curse pursue his breathless trunk and spirit,

Base Edomite, the damnèd Esau’s heir:1

85Must he ere Jacob’s child the crown inherit?

Must he, vile wretch, be set in David’s chair?°throne No, David’s soul, within the bosom placed

Of our forefather Abram,2was ashamed:

To see his seat with such a toad disgraced,

90That seat that hath by Judah’s race been famed.

Thou fatal enemy to royal blood,3

Did not the murder of my boy suffice,

To stop thy cruel mouth that gaping stood,

But must thou dim the mild Hircanus’eyes?

95My gracious father, whose too ready hand

Did lift this Idumean from the dust:

And he, ungrateful caitiff,°did withstand°wretch / oppose The man that did in him most friendly trust.

What kingdom’s right could cruel Herod claim,

100Was he not Esau’s issue, heir of hell?

Then what succession can he have but shame?

Did not his ancestor his birth-right sell?

Oh yes, he doth from Edom’s name derive4

4/Elizabeth Cary

6.I.e., her faint laments dishonor his death.


8.Emotion of grief.

9.Your eyes.

1.The Edomites were descendants of Esau, who sold his birthright (as ?rstborn) to his younger brother Jacob for a mess of pottage (Genesis 25. 29–34); Jacob also tricked his father into giving him the blessing intended for Esau. The Israelites were descendants of Jacob; the story was inter-preted to signify God’s favor to them over Esau’s descendants.

2.Abraham. David, one of Israel’s ?rst kings (now dead and so said to be in Abraham’s bosom), is ashamed to see that throne occupied by Herod.

3.Herod, because he had Alexandra’s father, Hir-canus, and her son Aristobolus killed.

His cruel nature which with blood is fed:

105That made him me of sire and son deprive,

He ever thirsts for blood, and blood is red.

Weep’st thou because his love to thee was bent,

And read’st thou love in crimson characters?

Slew he thy friends to work thy heart’s content?

110No: hate may justly call that action hers.

He gave the sacred priesthood for thy sake

To Aristobulus, yet doomed°him dead:commanded Before his back the ephod warm could make,

And ere the miter settled on his head:5

115Oh, had he given my boy no less than right,

The double oil should to his forehead bring

A double honor, shining doubly bright;

His birth anointed him both priest and king.

And say my father and my son he slew

120To royalize by right your prince-born breath:6

Was love the cause, can Mariam deem it true,

That Mariam gave commandment for her death?7

I know by ?ts he showed some signs of love,

And yet not love, but raging lunacy:

125And this his hate to thee may justly prove,

That sure he hates Hircanus’family.

Who knows if he, unconstant wavering lord,

His love to Doris8had renewed again?

And that he might his bed to her afford,

130Perchance he wished that Mariam might be slain.

MARIAM Doris! Alas, her time of love was past,

Those coals were raked in embers long ago

In Mariam’s love and she was now disgraced9

Nor did I glory in her overthrow.

135He not a whit his ?rst-born son esteemed,

Because as well as his he was not mine:1

My children only for his own he deemed,

These boys that did descend from royal line

These did he style his heirs to David’s throne;

140My Alexander, if he live, shall sit

In the majestic seat of Solomon;2

To will it so, did Herod think it ?t.

ALEXANDRA Why, who can claim from Alexander’s brood

That gold-adornèd lion-guarded chair?

145Was Alexander not of David’s blood?

And was not Mariam Alexander’s heir?

What more than right could Herod then bestow,3

The Tragedy of Mariam/5

4.Edom was thought to derive from a root mean-ing “red.”

5.Priestly vestments: the ephod is a linen gar-ment; the headpiece is termed a “miter,” con?ating it with a bishop’s miter.

6.To make Mariam (or her son) the rightful ruler.

7.I.e., If you think he killed to give you royal power, what about the commands for your death? Did Mariam command her own death?

8.Herod’s ?rst wife.9.The 1613 text reads “Of,” not “In.” With the emendation the line indicates that the “coals” of Herod’s love for Doris had become embers in the ?re of his love for Mariam, so that she (Doris) was now out of favor, “disgraced.”

1.Herod cared nothing for his ?rstborn son by Doris (Antipater), since he was not Mariam’s son.

2.David’s son, whose kingship was even more glorious.

And who will think except for more than right4

He did not raise them, for they were not low,

150But born to wear the crown in his despite:

Then send those tears away that are not sent

To thee by reason, but by passion’s power:

Thine eyes to cheer, thy cheeks to smiles be bent,

And entertain with joy this happy hour.

155Felicity, if when she comes, she ?nds

A mourning habit, and a cheerless look,

Will think she is not welcome to thy mind,

And so perchance her lodging will not brook.°accept Oh, keep her whilst thou hast her; if she go,

160She will not easily return again:

Full many a year have I endured in woe,

Yet still have sued her presence to obtain:

And did not I to her as presents send

A table,°that best art did beautify,picture 165Of two, to whom Heaven did best feature lend,

To woo her love by winning Anthony?

For when a prince’s favor we do crave,

We ?rst their minions’loves do seek to win:

So I, that sought Felicity to have,

170Did with her minion Anthony begin.5

With double sleight I sought to captivate

The warlike lover, but I did not right:

For if my gift had borne but half the rate,°value The Roman had been overtaken quite.

175But now he farèd like a hungry guest,

That to some plenteous festival is gone;

Now this, now that, he deems to eat were best,

Such choice doth make him let them all alone.

The boy’s6large forehead ?rst did fairest seem,

180Then glanced his eye upon my Mariam’s cheek:

And that without comparison did deem,

What was in either but he most did like.

And, thus distracted,°either’s beauty’s might torn, confused Within the other’s excellence was drowned:

185Too much delight did bare°him from delight,strip, deprive For either’s love the other’s did confound.

Where if thy portraiture had only gone,7

His life from Herod, Anthony had taken:

He would have lovèd thee, and thee alone,

190And left the brown Egyptian clean forsaken,

And Cleopatra then to seek had been8

So ?rm a lover of her wanèd face:

6/Elizabeth Cary

3.This Alexander was Mariam’s father and Alexan-dra’s husband; as he was of David’s blood, and Mariam was his heir, the throne was hers by right, not by Herod’s gift.

4.I.e., Herod had his own designs in elevating Mariam and her brother, so they will seem to owe their places to him, not to their own right.

5.In this little allegory, Alexandra, seeking Felicity, began by wooing her minion Anthony, by sending pictures of Mariam and Aristobolus, but he could not decide between them.


7.I.e., if she had sent only Mariam’s picture, Anthony would have loved her and left Cleopatra,“the brown Egyptian.”

8.Cleopatra would then have lacked (had to seek for) love.

The Tragedy of Mariam/7 Then great Anthonius’fall we had not seen,

By her that ?ed to have him hold the chase.9

195Then Mariam in a Roman’s chariot set,

In place of Cleopatra might have shown:

A mart°of beauties in her visage met,display

And part in this, that they were all her own.°not arti?cial MARIAM Not to be empress of aspiring Rome,

200Would Mariam like to Cleopatra live:

With purest body will I press my tomb,

And wish no favors Anthony could give.

ALEXANDRA Let us retire us, that we may resolve

How now to deal in this reversèd state:

205Great are th’affairs that we must now revolve,

And great affairs must not be taken late.

scene 3


SALOME More plotting yet? Why, now you have the thing

For which so oft you spent your suppliant breath:

And Mariam hopes to have another king.

210Her eyes do sparkle joy for Herod’s death.

ALEXANDRA If she desired another king to have,

She might before she came in Herod’s bed

Have had her wish. More kings than one did crave

For leave to set a crown upon her head.

215I think with more than reason°she laments,unreasonably That she is freed from such a sad annoy:

Who is’t will weep to part from discontent?

And if she joy, she did not causeless°joy.without cause SALOME You durst not thus have given your tongue the


220If noble Herod still remained in life:

Your daughter’s betters far, I dare maintain,

Might have rejoiced to be my brother’s wife.

MARIAM My betters far! Base woman, ’tis untrue,

You scarce have ever my superiors seen:

225For Mariam’s servants were as good as you,

Before she came to be Judea’s queen.

SALOME Now stirs the tongue that is so quickly moved,

But more than once your choler°have I borne:anger Your fumish°words are sooner said than proved,irascible 230And Salome’s reply is only scorn.

MARIAM Scorn those that are for thy companions held.

Though I thy brother’s face had never seen,

My birth thy baser birth so far excelled,

I had to both of you the princess been.

235Thou parti-Jew, and parti-Edomite,

Thou mongrel: issued from rejected race,

Thy ancestors against the Heavens did ?ght,1

9.Cleopatra, who abandoned Anthony at the battle of Actium.

And thou like them wilt heavenly birth disgrace.

SALOME Still twit you me with nothing but birth,2

240What odds betwixt your ancestors and mine?

Both born of Adam, both were made of earth,3

And both did come from holy Abraham’s line.

MARIAM I favor thee when nothing else I say,

With thy black acts I’ll not pollute my breath:

245Else to thy charge I might full justly lay.

A shameful life, besides a husband’s death.

SALOME’Tis true indeed, I did the plots reveal,

That passed betwixt your favorites and you:4

I meant not, I, a traitor to conceal.

250Thus Salome your minion Joseph slew.

MARIAM Heaven, dost thou mean this infamy to smother?

Let slandered Mariam ope thy closèd ear:

Self-guilt hath ever been suspicion’s mother,

And therefore I this speech with patience bear.

255No, had not Salome’s unsteadfast heart

In Josephus’stead her Constabarus placed,

To free herself she had not used the art

To slander hapless Mariam for unchaste.

ALEXANDRA Come, Mariam, let us go: it is no boot°use 260To let the head contend against the foot.

scene 4

[SALOME alone.]

SALOME Lives Salome to get so base a style°name As “foot” to the proud Mariam? Herod’s spirit

In happy time for her endured exile,

For did he live, she should not miss her merit:5

265But he is dead: and though he were my brother,

His death such store of cinders cannot cast

My coals of love to quench: for though they smother

The ?ames a while, yet will they out at last.

Oh blest Arabia,6in best climate place,

270I by the fruit will censure°of the tree:judge ’Tis not in vain they happy name thou hast,

If all Arabians like Silleus be.

Had not my fate been too too contrary,

When I on Constabarus ?rst did gaze,

275Silleus had been object to mine eye:

Whose looks and personage must all eyes amaze.

But now, ill-fated Salome, thy tongue

8/Elizabeth Cary

1.Edom fought continually against Israel and occupied southern Judea; the Hebrew prophets denounced this as de?ance of God’s will (Ezekiel 25.13, Jeremiah 49.7–22).

2.Salome complains that Mariam scorns her for her Edomite descent.

3.Salome claims descent from the ?rst father, Adam (whose name means red earth), and through Esau from the common patriarch of both Hebrews and Edomites, Abraham.

4.Salome had before caused Josephus’s death by malicious gossip that he and Mariam were lovers and were plotting against Herod; her inclusive statement hints that she may do as much with Sohemus.

5.I.e., Herod’s spirit is, happily for Mariam, exiled from his body, for if Herod were alive Mariam would get what she deserves.

6.Salome plays on the name “Arabia Felix,” which ancient geographers gave to the fertile parts of Ara-bia; the “fruit” of the “tree” Arabia is Salome’s new lover Silleus (next lines).

To Constabarus by itself is tied:

And now, except I do the Hebrew wrong,

280I cannot be the fair Arabian’s bride:

What childish lets°are these? Why stand I now obstacles On honorable points? ’Tis long ago

Since shame was written on my tainted brow:7

And certain ’tis, that shame is honor’s foe.

285Had I upon my reputation stood,

Had I affected°an unspotted life,desired Josephus’veins had still been stuffed with blood,

And I to him had lived a sober wife.

Then had I never cast an eye of love

290On Constabarus’now detested face,

Then had I kept my thoughts without remove:

And blushed at motion of the least disgrace:

But shame is gone, and honor wiped away,

And impudency on my forehead sits:

295She bids me work my will without delay,

And for my will I will employ my wits.

He loves, I love; what then can be the cause

Keeps me [from] being the Arabian’s wife?

It is the principles of Moses’laws,

300For Constabarus still remains in life.

If he to me did bear as earnest hate,

As I to him, for him there were an ease;

A separating bill8might free his fate

From such a yoke that did so much displease.

305Why should such privilege to man be given?

Or given to them, why barred from women then?

Are men than we in greater grace with Heaven?

Or cannot women hate as well as men?

I’ll be the custom-breaker: and begin

310To show my sex the way to freedom’s door,

And with an off’ring will I purge my sin;

The law was made for none but who are poor.9

If Herod had lived, I might to him accuse

My present lord. But for the future’s sake1

315Then would I tell the king he did refuse

The sons of Babas in his power to take.

But now I must divorce him from my bed,

That my Silleus may possess his room:°place Had I not begged his life, he had been dead,2

320I curse my tongue, the hind’rer of his doom,

But then my wand’ring heart to him was fast,

Nor did I dream of change: Silleus said,

The Tragedy of Mariam/9

7.I.e., she has not blushed for shame in a long time.

8.A bill for divorce, allowed in Deuteronomy 24.1 only to men.

9.The opening chapters of Leviticus prescribe speci?c offerings for speci?c sins; Salome’s cynical comment is that the wealthy can afford such offer-ings and so buy release from any sin.1.I.e., for the sake of my future husband, I would have told (next lines) Herod that Constabarus did not kill Herod’s enemies, the sons of Babas, but instead hid them.

2.Constabarus, while governor of Idumaea under Herod, sought to obtain that kingdom for himself; only Salome was able to persuade Herod to spare his life.

He would be here, and see, he comes at last.

Had I not named him, longer had he stayed.

scene 5


325SILLEUS Well found, fair Salome, Judea’s pride!

Hath they innated°wisdom found the way innate To make Silleus deem him dei?ed,

By gaining thee, a more than precious prey?

SALOME I have devised the best I can devise;

330 A more imperfect means was never found:

But what cares Salome? It doth suffice

If our endeavors with their end be crowned.

In this our land we have an ancient use,

Permitted ?rst by our law-giver’s3head:

335Who hates his wife, though for no just abuse,

May with a bill divorce her from his bed.

But in this custom women are not free,

Yet I for once will wrest it; blame not thou

The ill I do, since what I do’s for thee,

340Though others blame, Silleus should allow.

SILLEUS Thinks Salome, Silleus hath a tongue

To censure her fair actions? Let my blood

Bedash my proper°brow, for such a wrong,own The being yours, can make even vices good:

345Arabia, joy, prepare thy earth with green,

Thou never happy wert indeed till now:

Now shall thy ground be trod by beauty’s queen,

Her foot is destined to depress thy brow.

Thou shalt, fair Salome, command as much

350As if the royal ornament were thine:

The weakness of Arabia’s king is such,

The kingdom is not his so much as mine.4

My mouth is our Obodas’oracle,

Who thinks not aught but what Silleus will.

355And thou, rare creature, Asia’s miracle,

Shalt be to me as it: Obodas’still.5

SALOME’Tis not for glory I thy love accept,

Judea yields me honors worthy store:°supply Had not affection in my bosom crept,

360My native country should my life deplore.6

Were not Silleus he with whom I go,

I would not change my Palestine for Rome:

Much less would I a glorious state to show

Go far to purchase an Arabian tomb.

365SILLEUS Far be it from Silleus so to think,

I know it is thy gratitude requites

10/Elizabeth Cary

3.Moses, who received the Ten Commandments from God.

4.The king of Arabia, Obodas, was said to be slothful; Cary’s source, Josephus, said that he entrusted the kingdom’s affairs to Silleus.

5.The meaning is ambiguous. Line 354 ends with a question mark in the 1613 text. As emended here the passage suggests that Salome, Asia’s miracle, will be to him as his own will and will also rule Obodas and, thus, Arabia.

6.I.e., if I did not love you I would deplore the loss of my native land all my life.

The love that is in me, and shall not shrink

Till death do sever me from earth’s delights.

SALOME But whist;°methinks the wolf is in our talk.7hush 370Begone, Silleus. Who doth here arrive?

’Tis Constabarus that doth hither walk;

I’ll ?nd a quarrel, him from me to drive.

SILLEUS Farewell, but were it not for thy command,

In his despite Silleus here would stand.

scene 6


375CONSTABARUS Oh Salome, how much you wrong your name, Your race, your country, and your husband most!

A stranger’s private conference8is shame,

I blush for you, that have your blushing lost.

Oft have I found, and found you to my grief,

380Consorted with this base Arabian here:

Heaven knows that you have been my comfort chief,

Then do not now my greater plague appear.

Now by the stately carvèd edi?ce

That on Mount Sion makes so fair a show,9

385And by the altar ?t for sacri?ce,

I love thee more than thou thyself dost know.

Oft with a silent sorrow have I heard

How ill Judea’s mouth doth censure thee:

And did I not thine honor much regard,

390Thou shouldst not be exhorted thus for me.

Didst thou but know the worth of honest fame,

How much a virtuous woman is esteemed,

Thou wouldest like hell eschew deservèd shame,

And seek to be both chaste and chastely deemed.

395Our wisest prince did say, and true he said,

A virtuous woman crowns her husband’s head.1

SALOME Did I for this uprear thy low estate?

Did I for this requital beg thy life,

That thou hadst forfeited to hapless fate,

400To be to such a thankless wretch the wife?

This hand of mine hath lifted up thy head,

Which many a day ago had fallen full low,

Because the sons of Babas are not dead;

To me thou dost both life and fortune owe.

405CONSTABARUS You have my patience often exercised,

Use make my choler keep within the banks:2

Yet boast no more, but be by me advised.

A bene?t upbraided°forfeits thanks:reproached

I prithee, Salome, dismiss this mood,

410Thou dost not know how ill it ?ts thy place:

My words were all intended for thy good,

The Tragedy of Mariam/11

7.I.e., crafty ears are listening.

8.For a woman to talk privately with a stranger is shameful.

9.The Temple of Jerusalem.1.Proverbs 12.4, attributed to King Solomon.

2.I.e., may habit (“use”) make me control my anger (“choler”).

To raise thine honor and to stop disgrace.

SALOME To stop disgrace? Take thou no care for me,

Nay, do thy worst, thy worst I set not by:°care not for 415No shame of mine is like to light on thee,

Thy love and admonitions I defy.

Thou shalt no hour longer call me wife,

Thy jealousy procures my hate so deep:

That I from thee do mean to free my life,

420By a divorcing bill before I sleep.

CONSTABARUS Are Hebrew women now transformed to men?

Why do you not as well our battles ?ght,

And wear our armor? Suffer this, and then

Let all the world be topsy-turvèd°quite.turned upside down 425Let ?shes graze, beasts swim3and birds descend,

Let ?re burn downwards whilst the earth aspires:

Let winter’s heat and summer’s cold offend,

Let thistles grow on vines, and grapes on briars,

Set us to spin or sew, or at the best

430Make us wood-hewers, water-bearing wights:°creatures For sacred service let us take no rest,

Use us as Joshua did the Gibonites.4

SALOME Hold on your talk, till it be time to end,

For me I am resolved it shall be so:

435Though I be ?rst that to this course do bend,

I shall not be the last, full well I know.

CONSTABARUS Why then be witness Heav’n, the judge of sins,

Be witness spirits that eschew the dark:

Be witness angels, witness cherubins,

440Whose semblance sits upon the holy Ark:5

Be witness earth, be witness Palestine,

Be witness David’s city,°if my heart Jerusalem Did ever merit such an act of thine:

Or if the fault be mine that makes us part.

445Since mildest Moses, friend unto the Lord,

Did work his wonders in the land of Ham,

And slew the ?rst-born babes without a sword,

In sign whereof we eat the holy lamb:6

Till now that fourteen hundred years are past,

450Since ?rst the Law7with us hath been in force.

You are the ?rst, and will, I hope, be last,

That ever sought her husband to divorce.

SALOME I mean not to be led by precedent,

My will shall be to me instead of Law.

455CONSTABARUS I fear me much you will too late repent,

That you have ever lived so void of awe:

This is Silleus’love that makes you thus

Reverse all order: you must next be his.

12/Elizabeth Cary

3.The 1613 edition reads “swine,” but the context dictates this emendation.

4.I.e., make us into women (“spin or sew”) or slaves (hewers of wood and drawers of water), such as Joshua made of the Gibeonites (Joshua 9.21).

5.Two gold cherubim were to adorn the mercy seat, placed above the ark of the covenant (Exodus 25.18–20).

6.Passover celebrates this last of the ten plagues by which Moses delivered the Israelites from slav-ery in Egypt (the “land of Ham,” line 446).

7.The Law of Moses.

But if my thoughts aright the cause discuss,

460In winning you, he gains no lasting bliss;

I was Silleus, and not long ago

Josephus then was Constabarus now:

When you became my friend°you proved his foe,lover As now for him you break to me your vow.8

465SALOME If once I loved you, greater is your debt:

For certain ’tis that you deserved it not.

And undeservèd love we soon forget,

And therefore that to me can be no blot.

But now fare ill,9my once belovèd lord,

470Yet never more belov’d than now abhorred.[Exit SALOME.] CONSTABARUS Yet Constabarus biddeth thee farewell.

Farewell, light creature. Heaven forgive thy sin:

My prophesying spirit doth foretell

Thy wavering thoughts do yet but new begin.

475Yet I have better scaped than Joseph did,

But if our Herod’s death had been delayed,

The valiant youths that I so long have hid,

Had been by her, and I for them, betrayed.1

Therefore in happy hour did Caesar give

480The fatal blow to wanton Anthony:

For had he lived, our Herod then should live,

But great Anthonius’death made Herod die.

Had he enjoyed his breath, not I alone

Had been in danger of a deadly fall:

485But Mariam had the way of peril gone,

Though by the tyrant most belov’d of all—

The sweet-faced Mariam, as free from guilt

As Heaven from spots, yet had her lord come back,

Her purest blood had been unjustly spilt,

490And Salome it was would work her wrack.°destruction Though all Judea yield her innocent,

She often hath been near to punishment.[Exit.]


Those minds that wholly dote upon delight,

Except°they only joy in inward good,unless 495Still hope at last to hop upon the right,2

And so from sand they leap in loathsome mud.

Fond°wretches, seeking what they cannot ?nd,foolish

For no content attends a wavering mind.

If wealth they do desire, and wealth attain,

500Then wondrous fain°would they to honor leap:willingly If mean degree they do in honor gain,3

The Tragedy of Mariam/13

8.I.e., not long ago I was in Silleus’s place as your lover and Josephus in my place as your husband; now for Silleus you break your marriage vow to me.

9.As opposed to “farewell.”

1.Babas’s sons.

2.To land upon the right foot was a portent of a good result.

3.The line begins with “Of” in the 1613 text. The emendation is indicated both by parallelism with line 499 and by the sense, i.e., that if persons attain but a moderate degree of honor they will wish for a higher degree, “step” (next line).

They would but wish a little higher step.

Thus step to step, and wealth to wealth they add,

Yet cannot all their plenty make them glad.

505Yet oft we see that some in humble state,

Are cheerful, pleasant, happy, and content:

When those indeed that are of higher state,

With vain additions do their thoughts torment.

Th’one would to his mind his fortune bind,

510Th’other to his fortune frames his mind.

To wish variety is sign of grief,

For if you like your state as now it is,

Why should an alteration bring relief?

Nay, change would then be feared as loss of bliss.

515That man is only happy in his fate

That is delighted in a settled state.

Still Mariam wished she from her lord were free,

For expectation of variety:4

Yet now she sees her wishes prosperous be,

520She grieves, because her lord so soon did die.

Who can those vast imaginations feed,

Where in a property°contempt doth breed?what is possessed

Were Herod now perchance to live again,

She would again as much be grieved at that:

525All that she may,5she ever doth disdain,

Her wishes guide her to she knows not what.

And sad must be their looks, their honor sour,

That care for nothing being°in their power.that is

Act 2

scene 1


PHERORAS’Tis true, Graphina, now the time draws nigh

Wherein the holy priest with hallowed right,°rite The happy long-desired knot shall tie,

Pheroras and Graphina to unite:

5How oft have I with lifted hands implored

This blessed hour, till now implored in vain,

Which hath my wishèd liberty restored,

And made my subject self my own again.

Thy love, fair maid, upon mine eye doth sit,

10Whose nature hot doth dry the moisture all,

14/Elizabeth Cary

4.The chorus assumes from its own limited per-spective that Mariam’s disaffection from Herod must stem from a (stereotypically female) desire for variety. They impute to her Salome’s motives.

5.Whatever she in fact possesses she disdains.

1.Pheroras was Herod’s younger brother; Cary draws out the subplot of Pheroras and Graphina from a brief comment in Josephus that Pheroras refused to marry Herod’s daughter because he was in love with a slave girl. Cary makes Graphina a servant (“handmaiden,” line 56; “vassal,” line 62) but not necessarily a slave.

Which were in nature, and in reason ?t

For my monarchal°brother’s death to fall:royal Had Herod lived, he would have plucked my hand

From fair Graphina’s palm perforce: and tied

15The same in hateful and despisèd band,

For I had had a baby to my bride:2

Scarce can her infant tongue with easy voice

Her name distinguish°to another’s ear:make clear Yet had he lived, his power, and not my choice,

20Had made me solemnly the contract swear.

Have I not cause in such a change to joy?

What though she be my niece, a princess born?

Near blood’s without respect: high birth a toy,

Since love can teach us blood and kindred’s scorn.3

25What booted it°that he did raise my head,use was it To be his realm’s copartner, kingdom’s mate?

Withal, he kept Graphina from my bed,

More wished by me than thrice Judea’s state.

Oh, could not he be skilful judge in love,

30That doted so upon his Mariam’s face?

He, for his passion, Doris did remove;

I needed not a lawful wife displace.

It could not be but he had power to judge,

But he that never grudged a kingdom’s share,

35This well-known happiness to me did grudge:

And meant to be therein without compare.

Else had I been his equal in love’s host,°army For though the diadem on Mariam’s head

Corrupt the vulgar judgments, I will boast

40Graphina’s brow’s as white, her cheeks as red.

Why speaks thou not, fair creature? Move thy tongue,

For silence is a sign of discontent:

It were to both our loves too great a wrong

If now this hour do ?nd thee sadly bent.°inclined 45GRAPHINA Mistake me not, my lord, too oft have I

Desired this time to come with wingèd feet,

To be enrapt with grief when ’tis too nigh.

You know my wishes ever yours did meet:

If I be silent, ’tis no more but fear

50That I should say too little when I speak:

But since you will my imperfections bear,

In spite of doubt I will my silence break:

Yet might amazement tie my moving tongue,

But°that I know before Pheroras’mind.except 55I have admired°your affection long:wondered And cannot yet therein a reason ?nd.

Your hand hath lifted me from lowest state,

To highest eminency wondrous grace,4

The Tragedy of Mariam/15

2.Cary represents Pheroras’s intended bride, his niece, as still an infant and plays on the Latin infans, speechless.

3.I.e., love can teach scorn for high rank (“blood”)and the wishes of relatives.

4.I.e., such elevation would have been a “won-drous grace” even for one of high station.

And me your handmaid have you made your mate,

60Though all but you alone do count me base.

You have preserved me pure at my request,

Though you so weak a vassal5might constrain°force To yield to your high will; then last not best,6

In my respect a princess you disdain;

65Then need not all these favors study crave,

To be requited7by a simple maid?

And study still, you know, must silence have.

Then be my cause for silence justly weighed,

But study cannot boot°not I requite,help 70Except your lowly handmaid’s steadfast love

And fast°obedience may your mind delight,?rm

I will not promise more than I can prove.

PHERORAS That study needs not let°Graphina smile,hinder And I desire no greater recompense:

75I cannot vaunt me in a glorious style,

Nor show my love in far-fetch’d eloquence:

But this believe me, never Herod’s heart

Hath held his prince-born beauty-famèd wife

In nearer place than thou, fair virgin, art,

80To him that holds the glory of his life.8

Should Herod’s body leave the sepulchre,

And entertain the severed ghost°again,spirit He should not be my nuptial hinderer,

Except he hindered it with dying pain.°my death 85Come, fair Graphina, let us go in state,

This wish-endearèd time to celebrate.[Exeunt.]

scene 2


BABAS’FIRST SON Now, valiant friend, you have our

lives redeemed,

Which lives, as saved by you, to you are due:

Command and you shall see yourself esteemed

90Our lives and liberties belong to you.

This twice six years, with hazard of your life,

You have concealed us from the tyrant’s sword:

Though cruel Herod’s sister were your wife,

You durst in scorn of fear this grace afford.

95In recompense we know not what to say,

A poor reward were thanks for such a merit,9

Our truest friendship at your feet we lay,

The best requital to a noble spirit.

CONSTABARUS Oh, how you wrong our friendship, valiant youth!

100With friends there is not such a word as “debt”:

16/Elizabeth Cary

5.I.e., as your “weak vassal” you might have forced me to your bed.

6.I.e., that favor is even greater than your dis-daining a princess for me.

7.I.e., must I not study how to requite (repay) all these favor?8.I.e., Herod’s heart does not hold Mariam closer than you are held by him (Pheroras) who in you holds “the glory of his life.”

9.I.e., mere thanks would be a poor reward for such merit.

Where amity is tied with bond of truth,°trust All bene?ts are there in common set.

Then is the golden age with them renewed,

All names of properties°are banished quite:private ownership 105Division, and distinction, are eschewed:

Each hath to what belongs to others right.1

And ’tis not sure so full a bene?t,

Freely to give, as freely to require:°ask

A bounteous act hath to glory following it,

110They cause the glory that the act desire.

All friendship should the pattern imitate,

Of Jesse’s son and valiant Jonathan:2

For neither sovereign’s nor father’s hate

A friendship ?xed on virtue sever can.

115Too much of this, ’tis written in the heart,

And needs no amplifying with the tongue:

Now may you from your living tomb depart,

Where Herod’s life hath kept you overlong.

Too great an injury to a noble mind,

120To be quick°buried; you had purchased °fame,alive/won Some years ago, but that you were con?ned,

While thousand meaner did advance their name.

Your best of life, the prime of all your years,

Your time of action is from you bereft.

125Twelve winters have you overpassed in fears:

Yet if you use it well, enough is left.

And who can doubt but you will use it well?

The sons of Babas have it by descent:°heredity In all their thoughts each action to excel,

130Boldly to act, and wisely to invent.

BABAS’SECOND SON Had it not like the hateful cuckoo been,

Whose riper age his infant nurse doth kill:3

So long we had not kept ourselves unseen,

But Constabarus safely°crossed our will:for safety’s sake 135For had the tyrant ?xed his cruel eye

On our concealèd faces, wrath had swayed

His justice so, that he had forced us die.

And dearer price than life we should have paid,

For you, our truest friend, had fallen with us:

140And we, much like a house on pillars set,

Had clean depressed our prop, and therefore thus

Our ready will with our concealment met.

But now that you, fair lord, are dangerless,

The sons of Babas shall their rigor show:

145And prove it was not baseness did oppress

Our hearts so long, but honor kept them low.

BABAS’FIRST SON Yet do I fear this tale of Herod’s death

At last will prove a very tale indeed:

The Tragedy of Mariam/17

1.A variation on the ancient saying that friends hold all things in common.

2.The biblical David and Jonathan were con-stantly cited as an example of friendship, for which Jonathan de?ed the authority of Saul, both his father and his king (1 Samuel 18.4, 20.1–42).

3.The cuckoo hides its eggs in other birds’nests, and, according to Pliny, the young cuckoos kill the birds that fostered them.

4.I.e., I have a strong presentiment.

It gives me strongly in my mind,4his breath

150Will be preserved to make a number bleed:

I wish not therefore to be set at large,

Yet peril to myself I do not fear:5

Let us for some days longer be your charge,°in your care Till we of Herod’s state the truth do hear.

155CONSTABARUS What, art thou turned a coward,

noble youth,

That thou beginn’st to doubt undoubted truth?

BABAS’FIRST SON Were it my brother’s tongue that

cast this doubt,

I from his heart would have the question out

With this keen falchion,°but ’tis you, my lord,broadsword 160Against whose head I must not lift a sword:

I am so tied in gratitude.


You have no cause to take it ill;

If any word of mine your heart did grieve,

The word dissented from the speaker’s will.

165I know it was not fear the doubt begun,

But rather valor and your care of me;

A coward could not be your father’s son.

Yet know I doubts unnecessary be:

For who can think that in Anthonius’fall,

170Herod his bosom friend should scrape unbruised?

Then, Caesar, we might thee an idiot call,

If thou by him should’st be so far abused.

BABAS’SECOND SON Lord Constabarus, let me tell you this,

Upon submission Caesar will forgive;

175And therefore though the tyrant did amiss,

It may fall out that he will let him live.

Not many years agone it is since I,

Directed thither by my father’s care,

In famous Rome for twice twelve months did lie,6

180My life from Hebrews’cruelty to spare.

There though I were but yet of boyish age,

I bent mine eye to mark, mine ears to hear,

Where I did see Octavius, then a page,

When ?rst he did to Julius’sight appear:

185Methought I saw such mildness in his face,

And such a sweetness in his looks did grow,7

Withal, commixed with so majestic grace,

His phys’nomy8his fortune did foreshow:

For this I am indebted to mine eye,

190But then mine ear received more evidence,

By that I knew his love to clemency,

How he with hottest choler°could dispense.anger CONSTABARUS But we have more than barely heard the news,

It hath been twice con?rmed. And though some tongue

18/Elizabeth Cary

5.The 1613 text reads “leare,” an evident mis-take.

6.The 1613 text reads “live,” which does not rhyme.

7.Various classical writers, especially Suetonius,testi?ed to the grace and youthful promise of the young Octavius (Augustus Caesar, 63 B.C.E.–14


8.The 1613 text reads “phismony,” a misprint for “phys’mony,” a contraction of “physiognomy.”

195Might be so false with false report t’abuse,

A false report hath never lasted long.

But be it so that Herod have his life,

Concealment would not then a whit avail:

For certain ’tis, that she that was my wife,

200Would not to set her accusation fail.

And therefore now as good the venture give,

And free ourselves from blot of cowardice

As show a pitiful desire to live,

For, who can pity but they must despise?

205BABAS’FIRST SON I yield, but to necessity I yield;

I dare upon this doubt engage mine arm:9

That Herod shall again this kingdom wield,

And prove his death to be a false alarm.

BABAS’FIRST SON I doubt°it too: God grant it be an error,fear 210’Tis best without a cause to be in terror:

And rather had I, though my soul be mine,

My soul should lie, than prove a true divine.1

CONSTABARUS Come, come, let fear go seek a dastard’s nest,

Undaunted courage lies in a noble breast.[Exeunt.]

scene 3


215DORIS You2royal buildings, bow your lofty side,

And scope to her that is by right your queen:

Let your humility upbraid the pride

Of those in whom no due respect is seen:

Nine times have we with trumpets’haughty sound,

220And banishing sour leaven from our taste,

Observed the feast that takes the fruit from ground.3

Since I, fair city, did behold thee last,

So long4it is since Mariam’s purer cheek

Did rob from mine the glory, and so long

225Since I returned my native town to seek:

And with me nothing but the sense of wrong,

And thee, my boy, whose birth, though great it were,

Yet have thy after fortunes proved but poor:

When thou wert born, how little did I fear

230Thou should’st be thrust from forth thy father’s door!

Art thou not Herod’s right begotten son?

Was not the hapless Doris Herod’s wife?

Yes: ere he had the Hebrew kingdom won,

I was companion to his private life.

235Was I not fair enough to be a queen?

Why, ere thou wert to me, false monarch, tied,

My lack of beauty might as well be seen,

As after I had lived ?ve years thy bride.

Yet then thine oath came pouring like the rain,

The Tragedy of Mariam/19

9.Upon this fear (“doubt”) of Herod’s return, I dare prepare to defend myself in arms.

1.I.e., I would rather be proved a liar than a true prophet in this case.

2.The 1613 text reads “Your,” but this is most likely an apostrophe to the buildings.

3.At the end of the feast of unleavened bread (associated with Passover), the ?rst fruits of the harvest were offered to God (Leviticus 23.5–14).

4.I.e., nine years.