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This is Chronicles of Elyria fan fiction.

CoE is an exciting up-and-coming MMO currently in Kickstarter, which promises to bring in family, character death and roleplaying in new and meaningful ways.

Cold wind, dark road. The shadows under the heirloombluebridge were especially dense and unwelcoming, but Jalmar didn’t mind. Dark shadows meant refuge, unless someone larger, stronger or better armed had taken possession of them first. This particular spot was dank enough that he doubted anyone would want to fight over it. Only someone truly desperate would try to shelter here.

The wind muffled all other sound and the overcast night obscured all but the largest obstacles. He tried to find a place less damp than the rest, scuffing a toe in the dirt and trying not to think of warm beds and welcoming firesides. His traitorous eye was drawn back to the dim light that flickered from the windows of houses in the nearby village of Mirkford. He had already exhausted all possibilities there. The locals were suspicious and unfriendly and Jalmar could not blame them. The signs of recent predations by bandits had been all too common along the road.

Jalmar grudgingly found a spot that met his rapidly dwindling requirements and set down his pack. He began drawing out his possessions . A square of canvas that could serve as ground sheet or tent. A scruffy bedroll, patched to the point of being impossible to repair. He was considering whether he dared to build a fire, when a hand fastened on his shoulder.

“Holy Saint Ana!” Jalmar exclaimed, speaking in his native Bishari. He dropped the tinderbox he had been holding and it clattered to the ground, his hand darting towards the concealed knife in his jerkin.

The man holding him gave him a rough shake, throwing him off balance.

Light flared a short distance away as a second person brought out what looked to be a small glowing pinecone. By its light, Jalmar could see a pale-skinned woman wearing well-worn coin-studded leather armour, with a shortsword sheathed by her side. She looked fierce and competent.

“Don’t give trouble,” growled his captor, dragging him out of the shelter of the bridge, into the fierce blast of the wind and towards the circle of light. As they moved forward, Jalmar could see the man was large, brawny and unarmed. He was dressed more like a farmer than a soldier or a bandit. Jalmar weighed up his options. He could try to take on the pair of them. He could drop and break free of the man’s grip, roll aside and draw his dagger…

And then what? Run away without his possessions? That would be as good as death in this weather. Attack what was probably the local village militia? No. He was cold, alone and exhausted, and even if the odds had been better, he was no murderer. It was best to try to talk his way out of this.

“It’s that foreigner,” the woman said in disgust. From her expression, she would have liked to spit at him, but was restrained by her own dignity, or perhaps the fierce wind.

“You were told to get out of town and keep going,” snarled the farmer, giving Jalmar an extra hard shake.

“I apologise,” said Jalmar, trying to speak with dignity. It was difficult. His teeth were chattering with cold. “I couldn’t walk any further.”

The man glowered. The woman frowned. Her eyes ran over Jalmar, taking in his brown skin and worn clothes. They dwelled on his much-mended shoes.

“We don’t tolerate beggars here,” said the man. “There’s no room for those that don’t care to work for a living.”

“I’m happy to work,” protested Jalmar. “No one would give me any. Not here, not in the last town. Not anywhere I’ve passed through in this whole kingdom. I ran out of money.”

“Then why did you come here? Go home to your own country!” sneered the farmer. “We’ve got enough problems of our own without people like you causing trouble.”

“I am just a traveller,” Jalmar began, but the woman cut him off.

“Bring him in, Garben,” she said. “We’ll lock him in my barn for the night and he can go on his way in the morning.”

“But, Risha…”

“It’s not fit weather to be standing out here discussing this,” she said. “I want to get out of this wind.”

“Thank you,” said Jalmar. Staying in a barn would be far preferable to camping under a damp bridge.

“Don’t make me regret it,” she replied, her grey eyes meeting his own coldly.


Jalmar was woken shortly after dawn by the barn door creaking open. He stirred reluctantly. Cocooned in his bedroll amidst the warm hay in the loft, he felt warmer than he had for weeks. The thin light of morning streamed through the door, and he was glad to realise that the wind had died down to no more than a frisky breeze.

Below, someone – a young female from the voice – was tending to the cows. She was singing softly to them.

He lay back telling himself he would get up in a moment. That he would enjoy just one more minute of being deliciously comfortable and then…

“Wake up!”

Jalmar sat up, immediately aware that far more than a minute had passed. The woman from the night before, dressed like a farmhand but still wearing the sword, stood a short distance away. Risha, he remembered her name was.

“There’s some milk churns that need loading and taking to the cheesemaker, if you want breakfast,” she said.

“Of course!” said Jalmar. His stomach gave a painful twist at the thought of a proper meal. He scrambled to his feet, brushed a few wisps of hay out of his hair and followed her down the ladder.

“Thank you again for taking me in last night,” he said, as he helped load the churns into a cart. “I don’t know what would have happened if you hadn’t.”

“Don’t make too much of it,” she replied.

He turned away, feeling rebuffed. He picked up another churn and she seemed to relent a little.

“It’s been tough times for everyone,” she said. “What with the war and the tuber-blight. A lot of folk have turned to desperate measures to feed their families. That’s why I train with the militia. Truth is, there’s plenty of work, but nothing to pay for it.” Her eyes asked the obvious question although she did not voice it – why was he here when there were doubtlessly other, brighter places? Where was he going?

He hesitated to answer. The truth was, he didn’t really know. He had been a wanderer for most of his twenty-odd years, ever since he had left Mother Calista’s Orphanage for Needy Youth back home in distant Analexis, the capital of arid Bishar. As long as he could remember, he had felt the tug of the road, an inexorable need to move on, to go somewhere else.

He had tarried in many places along the way; had spent two years working for a merchant in the Aratolian Highlands, and another as a caravan guard across the plains of Horizon. Once he had even considered settling down and getting married. Every time the call of the road had pulled him onwards, inexorably to…. he knew not what.

He did not wander for the love of it. Sometimes he liked his life. The constantly changing panorama of scenery, the new wonders that each part of the world had to offer – it all drove home how wonderful it was to be alive. But more often he hated it. He was weary of the discomfort and uncertainty of never knowing what the day would bring or where the road would lead.

He had spoken to other drifters and he knew his wanderlust was somehow different from theirs. Most wandered on forever in meandering lines and overlapping circles, driven by a need for anonymity, or merely for wandering’s sake. He had a Destination. It was firmly there, fixed in his mind, a feeling he had to be somewhere, to do something. Something that was imprinted on his very soul.

For weeks now he had felt he was drawing near. It had being growing stronger and more certain, day by day. He would arrive any moment now. Maybe it even lay in the next village. He had never felt like this before.

He didn’t know what he would do if he arrived and there was nothing there.

The last of the churns was loaded. Risha took the reins of the placid workhorse, while Jalmar rode in the back and steadied the load. A short way across the village, they unloaded the milk at the cheesemaker’s.

“You work well enough,” Risha said afterwards, while they sat in the kitchen of the farmhouse, eating a breakfast of boiled eggs, flatbread and cheese. “I have to admit we do need help. There’s fences that desperately need mending and it’s a difficult job for one person. You could stay on for the day, in exchange for food and lodgings in the barn.”

Jalmar hesitated.  His destination was so close, now. The desire to reach it burned within him like hellfire.

“Suit yourself,” said Risha, her face stiffening as she anticipated his rejection. “It’s not like we won’t get by.”

“Of course I will help,” said Jalmar.


Jalmar’s joints ached from unaccustomed activity. He had spent the first day fixing fences alongside Risha. They had achieved a great deal, although the task was still far from complete. Her hard-won admittance that he was a competent and willing worker had earned him another night’s lodging. The next day, he had been going to move on, but during breakfast they had been alerted by the cries of Kiari, Risha’s younger sister, that something was amiss.

“The cows!” Kiari cried breathlessly, running up to the farmhouse door. “They broke through the fence and are running off into the woods!”

Thus Jalmar had spent a cold, muddy morning tramping through the copse of trees that bordered the swamp, trying to help drive the cattle back into their paddock. The afternoon had been spent repairing the new break in the fence.

This morning, the start of the third day, he had awoken to an undeniable tugging. It sent a dull ache echoing right down to his bones.

“I’ve got to get moving,” he told himself. If it had not been so bad, he would have liked to stay here a while, to help build the farm back up again. Maybe then Risha would smile more often.

“I should be moving on today,” he told Risha as she came downstairs to breakfast. She spared him only a brief disappointed look, before turning her attention back to the old woman leaning on her arm. She was Risha’s grandmother and Jalmar had not seen her before. He had been aware of her existence, but Kiari had told him she seldom came downstairs any more.

The old woman straightened and carefully took a seat at the table. Only then did her watery blue eyes look up at Jalmar.

Her mouth dropped open in overjoyed surprise.

“Tori!” she cried, her old voice high and warbling. “How can it be you?”

Jalmar froze in confused embarrassment. As he looked at the old woman’s crepe-skinned face, the pang of wanderlust burned through him stronger than ever before. It was consuming him from the inside out. He had to move on. He didn’t belong here. He had to go, to reach it, to find…

“It’s not grandad,” Kiari piped up, laying her small hand on the old woman’s arm. “This is Jalmar. He’s a traveller, helping with some of the work.”

The old woman shook her head stubbornly. “He’s Torren – I can see it in his eyes.” She stared at Jalmar intently.

Risha was embarrassed and worried. “I’m sorry,” she said to Jalmar, who was paralysed, caught between the old woman’s gaze and the terrible ache inside him. “I don’t know what’s come over her. She doesn’t usually do things like this. What is it, Gran?”

“He’s come back at last!” crowed the old woman. “Come to fix everything! I knew that he would!”

“Maybe I should go,” Jalmar made himself say, and then he was surging to his feet and practically running out the door, feeling the great relief of letting the wanderlust take him. He ignored Kiari’s surprised gasp, and Risha’s “No, wait!”

He took solace in just running, out the door, down the lane that led from the farm and into the road.  The pressure eased with every step he took. His thin shoes slapped on the ground, he stumbled and slid on loose gravel, but he didn’t slow down until that same low stone bridge just outside of town. He crossed to the other side and then his steps faltered. The burning desire to hurry onwards was gone.

He stood quivering for a moment, his chest heaving as he tried to catch his breath. He could hear someone calling his name in the distance but that seemed unimportant. No, the tug wasn’t gone, it had merely subsided. It led him down under the bridge to his would-be campsite, which looked even less appealing by the light of day. A heavy rock lay deep under the angle of the bridge. Recklessly, Jalmar tugged at it, breaking his nails and scoring his palms. Under the pressure of his whole weight it began to shift, slowly at first and then with greater momentum. The rock toppled over slowly and tumbled down the bank to plunge into the stream. Jalmar could hear a horse’s hoofs skittering over the bridge overhead, but his focus was firmly directed to the space the rock had left. Within was a small but sturdy wooden box with a sigil etched into the lid.

He picked it up.

“Jalmar?” Risha’s uncertain voice echoed under the bridge. “You forgot your things…”

Jalmar edged back and stood up, the box in his hands. She was standing just under the bridge, his pack dangling from one hand. She looked uncertainly at him and he realised how crazy he must seem. She noticed the box he held in his hands and suddenly drew in her breath. She dropped the pack to the ground.

“That’s our family mark,” she said. “How did you…?”

“I don’t know,” said Jalmar. He stepped forward to press the box into her hands. For the first time in his life he felt giddily free of any desire to go anywhere. He stood basking in the overwhelming emptiness.

“We should open this at home,” said Risha.

Jalmar said nothing, he felt so strange. He jumped when Risha laid a hand on his arm.

“Won’t you come back with me?” she asked.

“Yes,” said Jalmar. “I think I’d like that.”

They retrieved the farm workhorse and returned to the farmhouse. At the kitchen table, Kiari and Gran waited for them. Risha set the box on the table.

“What is it?” asked Kiari, her eyes wide, as Risha coaxed the lid open.

“The return of our prosperity,” said the old lady, her eyes fixed not on the box but on Jalmar.

Risha had opened the box. The inside was lined with waxed cloth, and inside, amidst a wash of heavy gold and silver coins, was a small filigree locket. The same sigil, twisted in golden wire, decorated the front.

“Gran’s locket!” breathed Risha. “It can’t be anything else!” Her startled eyes travelled to Gran for confirmation and then across to Jalmar’s face. “It was stolen years ago and we thought it was gone forever.” She carefully opened it and inside was a tiny portrait of a middle-aged man, who stared out confidently at the world. His eyes seemed to bore into Jalmar, right to the depths of his soul.

“Torren,” said Gran.

“What I want to know,” said Risha to Jalmar, “is how you knew it was there.”

“I don’t know,” replied Jalmar, but as he looked into Risha’s grandfather’s painted eyes, he was filled with certainty that he had finally found his way home.

The project I got distracted into this Christmas holiday was making a dodgy prose translation of Félix Lope de Vega y Carpio’s 1621 play , ‘El Laberinto de Creta’, since I couldn’t find it in English anywhere on the interwebz.

Act One Act Two Act Three


Scene 1. The Island of Lesbos. Enter Oranteo, Lucindo, and Lauro.

Oranteo: So it is quiet in Lesbos as it is in Crete.

Lauro: It is never quiet to someone who is in love; passion is an avocation that subjects the soul and heart to a blind appetite.

Oranteo: Revenge sears and disquiets me: They have left for Athens, Lucindo; they leave, and challenge the barbarian Teseo. Paris the Trojan be my pledge: Tell him his weapons offend the Prince of Lesbos, Oranteo, dare him, the betrayer and malborn, that I do not believe it to be of Jupiter; Tell him that he was a coward ,and not the audacious victor over the ugly Minotaur; but rather deceitful Ulysses, who importunately killed the son of Poseidon. And tell him that if he fears war because he suspects danger, that I do not challenge him to fight in my land, nor in his land, but on the undulating field of the sea. The theatre that these islands enclose will serve as a place of war, where a ship has a free and secure place to meet the challenge.

Lucindo: I will go to complete your desire in full: but I do not know if you guess the outcome of the battle aright, because in Athens they tell much of the great deeds of Teseo.

Oranteo: All of them are dubious. The tale they tell of his deed with Hercules I do not believe, nor the one where he broke the doors of hell; yes, I believe that he went to Colchis, but it is known that he was with Jason on the first ship. Anyway, I find in the robbery of Medea, the Golden Fleece and the Golden Apples and all that, that he employs theft in all he does; I pledge on the soul that I adore.

Lucindo: Anyway, you want the sea as the field of battle?

Oranteo: Well, who can better give us with due decorum a place of challenge in the first deck of a ship? On board with our own men, and raising the two for the ladders,[1] our skill will have the battle to ourselves, where the cowards have no wings.

Lucindo: And who do you name to judge between you?

Oranteo: The gods of the sea, who will clear crystal halls upon the surf; and from heaven the deities alone. They beautiful nymphs will crown the happy victor with bouquets of coral, and I will be, no doubt, that jealous one equal to the sighs of the stars.

Lucindo: I go to obey you.

Oranteo: And I, spirited Lucindo, wait for my favour from them.

Lucindo: The heavens give you righteous victory!

He goes.          

Oranteo: And should I die, what greater glory? Lauro, I send you to take my word to the people, because the confused noise of the cities offends me. My love aims to live amid the silent solitudes, there I wish to entrust myself to the hunt, and the forests would tell me their truths; because there soft streams murmur there, and not servants of my mad jealousy.

Lauro: In short, you want to live your life in the countryside, wallowing in your sad love for beautiful Ariadna?

Oranteo: I want to spend my loneliness in it: I will follow the wild beasts of the mountain. Also war, because it is her image. For to one who has said goodbye to his joy, loneliness is sweet company.


Scene 2. Enter Ariadna, dressed as a (male) shepherd, and Diana,[2] a peasant.

Ariadna: Would you like me to leave, Diana?

Diana: I have conquered the hard rocks, due to having seen such a beast in human beauty. Were you born of tigers?

Ariadna: If I was born of them, I would not have fled from you, but would have gone to you looking ruthless.

Diana: Well, Montano, you have paid me well with your hospitality, in faith, when I found myself lost in the gullies of that meadow. Would to God that the sea had eaten you before you saw the hovels on this shore, because you came to kill me! If I were to fall here as a woman to be buried, would you just laugh at me?

Ariadna: Diana, what can I do, if I do not love?

Diana: Try it and you will know, you traitor.

Ariadna: How is it possible to know? Teach me?

Diana: I don’t believe that it is possible to give instruction in love. But it possible for hope and desire to guide you.

Ariadna: What are hope and desire?

Diana: Desire is for any good, and hope, that is for those who live while they have not reached it.

Ariadna: I do not know rhetoric; speak to me in my own language, that is the philomosophy[3] that the devil taught you.

Diana: Now well, I want to give you a lesson in love, although the art really only is to see, and be seen to please me. Look at me.

Ariadna: I have already looked at you.

Diana: More, I say.

Ariadna: Another look?

Diana: Imagine that you like me, even though I lack beauty.

Ariadna: I am imagining it.

Diana: Now you want to enjoy imagining it.

Ariadna: How?

Diana: With the performance, that is where love entertains.

Ariadne: What performance is that?

Diana: Is there anything more rustic?

Ariadna: I am a fool!

Diana: Either you despise me because I am tedious, or you are the most ignorant of any man born.

Ariadna: So my woes have made me: I will make amends later.

Diana: If you wait like Narcissus to fall in love with yourself, my eyes will make fountains of anger; when you look at me that will be the warning.

Ariadna: Your warning also annoys me. When I see a woman crying, I find myself falling down laughing in sheer pleasure.

Diana: Well may you despise me, but in faith, you will cry yourselfsome day.

Enter Fineo.

Fineo: The cow-yard looks good, you have looked after it well.

Ariadna: What do you want of me? If Diana will let me be.

Fineo: You are always complaining! You never stop these devilish complaints.

Ariadna: She wants me to love her, and I do not love her, nor do I know how

Phineus: Eh. If it were me, I would love her. Get out of here, you!

Ariadna: I should go?

Diana: Not that.

Ariadna: Well, since you don’t want me to…

She goes.

Diana: Oh, ingrate!

Fineo: Stop, listen to Fineo!

Diana: That my desire bores you!

Fineo: Listen to my complaints for a while, instead.

Diana: What do you want?

Fineo: That you stay here, and listen to me for a thousand words.

Diana: No. Do you see where the goats go?

Fineo: Where do they go?

Diana: Up there.

Fineo: Point out the way to Montano. I believe the climb would kill me.

Diana: Don’t wear yourself out, Fineo.I will not like you anymore, if you do not make it so I can marry Montano.

Fineo: Me?

Diana: Yes, you: he will not say no if you beg him.

Fineo: Should this happen, my love will fall down on the ground in his state!

Diana: If you don’t, you are lighting ice on fire.

Fineo: You’re in an amusing mood; promise me a favour for after the marriage. Arranging this would please me, but I don’t dare do it, because I know that Montano is not for marrying.

Diana: What’s wrong with him?

Fineo: A defect.

Diana: Well, your love comes to delude me in vain!

Fineo: By Jupiter, he is not for woman, that is for certain!

Diana: You have uncovered your jealousy, and your jealous interest. You remain a villain.

She leaves.

Fineo: I have told you the truth, and if he changes his mind, there will not be a man Montano anymore.

Ariadna returns.

Ariadna: What is to stop my life?

Fineo: In this I would be careful.

Ariadna: And I am not that. Where did the fool woman go?

Fineo: She has gone already.

Ariadna: How many woes have come to me since Oranteo left!

Fineo: Teseo carried Fedra off, repaying your love by forgetting it.

Ariadna: Would you not go to the city find out what Oranteo intendsl if he has kindled another new love, or if he feels my loneliness? For the shepherds who have gone there a few times say that he landed a few days ago, and holds court there.

Fineo: I will do this to serve you, and because this inclination is founded on reason.

Ariadna: I will repay in full the crime of absence that I injured Oranteo with. When he looks at the state my misery has brought me, and his desire, then all our past love will return to be brought back to life. Here, in this place where that villainous betrayer left me.

But it was a just punishment for Theseus to leave me, because I forgot Oranteo to make love to my enemy, and to the deities of heaven, few have known love.

Fineo: I will go see if there is a place in your love for his sleeplessness.Trust me, My Lady, I serve you loyally.

Ariadna: I know you do.

Fineo: I was born to serve you.

Fineo leaves.

Ariadna: My repentant love has wanted a bastard love, contrary to the first love. He turned to love, that the true fire would be kindled in the hidden guts. They say truly that absence causes forgetfulness, I did wrong and I want to apologise. But I hope to prove that hope is not forgetten and love returns to be what it has been. When this the fire assists the memory, it does not matter that the absence let forgetfulness take hold. He covered the absence with ashes, but as he inhaled the sweet vision, the flame returned to its first essence.

Of course, if this is an accurate representation of how they dress on the island, I don't see how dressing as a man would really have worked.

Of course, if this is an accurate representation of how they dress on the island, I don’t see how dressing as a man would really have worked.


Scene 3. Enter Oranteo, Lauro, and Hunters.

Lauro: We cannot follow him: the water is straight ahead.

Oranteo: So he would die in it like me, embraced.[4] Lauro,my sad eyes go into the water.

Lauro: The fields do not divert your anger?

Hunter #1: Pierced with a hard arrow, it was to give poison to the first source.

Oranteo: Ah, of that prisoner with a feeling soul!

Hunter #2: If you want to follow him, it is near the river.

Oranteo: My eyes make it to be by the sea.

Lauro: If you wish to rest, a little shepherd has appeared here.

Ariadna: People of the court to offer consolation for my woe.

Oranteo: Hail, happy shepherd, who lives in the fields with a liberty that you have not lost, because you have not seen beauty, and given your will in bondage to love! Would you have a hunter of wild beasts rest in this forest, where a beast he tracks comes alone to die?

Ariadne: Apollo avail me! What is this illusion that puts love in my eyes?

Oranteo: You do not speak?

Ariadna: It was absorbed in your face, and so enamoured in your elegance, as when we do not see these mountains, that I could hardly could hit on a response to you. Poor and humble huts overshadow the valley you look upon, and it is surrounded by gentle streams and sweet trees; if you want to rest, it has no white marbles, golden frames or crystal glasses; it has black walls, beds of straw, roofs of straw and hard corrugated lanes – there is its architecture in brief.[5]

Oranteo: Lauro, I am not myself, because I have come to imagine that this shepherd looks exactly the same as the most beautiful Ariadna.

Lauro: You are not fooled by love, for in my life I have seen things that appeared more strange. Only the skin, browned by the sun, is the difference between their beauties.

Oranteo: Shepherd, do you know who I am?

Ariadna: Someone suspicious.

Oranteo: Would you like to come with me?

Ariadne: I will not leave the simple life in the green fields for the lies of your court, if you made me Prince of Lesbos.

Oranteo: But is it not better to live with such a gift?

Ariadna: Where everyone is dependent on a Lord’s bounty, everything is bad; it is better to stay here by the tree with its fruit in season, than with silver plate; better to drink from one’s own cupped hands, than from the glass of the golden cup; here, without money, is a place familiar with all that nature gives.

Oranteo: Your ingenuity is equal to your beauty. I am going to rest. You, meanwhile, Lauro, have to collect all of these people, and arrange that with this little shepherd I will dwell in these valleys until Lucindo brings news from Athens.

Ariadna: What do you have in Athens?

Oranteo: An ingrate, that the more I miss the more it kills me.

He goes.

Ariadna: Heavens, I know your great mercy, I praise and bless, while deserving punishment, you have given me liberty and a great prize! This is my beloved Oranteo, who I have paid so badly, who is faithfully in the same state of desire. I am stirred within to see to this duty. Come back, come back, heart, to that which the soul once had. How do I speak to him? What will I do? I am afraid: the shepherds are coming: leave me, fears, which aggrieve faith.

Enter Diana and Doriclea, peasants, and Fabio, Florelo, and Liseno, cowherds.

Fabio: All has to be arranged for the day of the festival.

Liseno: Florelo should bring the flowers and cut laurel from the woods; I will make a rich theatre where the king himself could sit.

Florelo: What’s happening, Montano?

Ariadna: While walking the sheep as they shear the ground, chewing young shoots, I have been making songs.

Diana: Will they be of love?

Ariadna: They could be.

Diana: Yes, but you do not have in your life the one who you should.

Ariadna: You mean you?

Diana: I know it.

Ariadna: If I was ungrateful, it weighs upon me; have you seen the big-chinned[6] king, newly returned from Crete?

Diana: Where?

Ariadna: Not far from here: he has gone hunting wild beasts.

Diana: Watch that he would not hunt you.

Ariadna: Am I a wild beast?

Liseno: While we are talking about things related to kings, you know that our festival, each year at April, has a king and a queen.

Ariadna: Well, what is the point of this king?

Fabio: He commands the shepherds of this mountain, and they obey.

Ariadna: He should be so lucky!

Florelo: Well, don’t think it is a new custom in these mountains. No less than a goddess picks out the king and tests his faith.

Ariadna: A goddess?

Florelo: Behind this mountain, where a river exchanges flowers for pearls and kisses its plants with a silver mouth, there is a very ancient temple, which has almost no doors. And there is a beautiful statue of the renowned Minerva, and to herwe shepherds go crowned with ivy, and we ask that she signal who are to be the king and queen, and she tells him to kiss her foot, because the statue puts her hand on the head of those who are to be king and queen.

Ariadna: In faith, I have to go see it, to see if I am the one it choses.

Liseno: Hopefully you are!

Fabio: Let’s go cut laurels.

Florelo: Let’s go, Diana.

Diana: If you are chosen to be king, what will you command me?

Only Doriclea and Ariadna remain.

Ariadna: No more than that you hate me.

Doriclea: Hear a word aside.

Ariadna: What do you want of me, Doriclea?

Doriclea: Know that I wish so very much to be queen, and as women are subtle when they desire something, I have thought of a certain artifice.

Ariadna: Artifice, of what sort?

Doriclea: They dress the statue of the goddess every year, and this task is entrusted to me. I will put her clothes on you, and you will be in her place; for your handsomeness, Montano, is greater than her beauty; and so you can pick me for me to be queen.

Ariadna: So, you want me to dress as a woman?

Doriclea: What do you lose in doing for me what I want?

Ariadna: Well, you want me to have patience, to be made of marble and on the altar?

Doriclea: Just for a little time.

Ariadna: When I am daring to be the Goddess, don’t you see that they’ll know it’s me?

Doriclea: It is impossible for them, because you will be almost covered with branches and flowers.

Ariadna: Well now, I would like to be a goddess, just so you don’t take me as a coward.

Doriclea: There is no danger: for the people of this country are as rustic as the pines.

Ariadna: It is sensible to obey you, because one in love likes to deny nothing to anyone who asks.

Doriclea: So… who do you love?

Ariadna: Am I not a man?

Doriclea: Diana complains of that.

Ariadna: Where I do not like, it is understood; where I do like…

Doriclea: A little hope – you like me!

Ariadna: Possibly not, because you make me the goddess Minerva.

Doriclea: What does it matter if you are a woman on the outside, if you are a man?

Ariadna: Well said: but indeed, the gods and the beautiful goddesses, is it not good that we love the people of the earth?

They leave.

A statue of Minerva somewhere in Germany.

A statue of Minerva somewhere in Germany.


 Scene 4. Teseo and Albante enter.

Teseo: This has given the answer.

Albante: It is very much in agreement with your divine worth.

Teseo: To the necessary point, Albante. As Neptune already knows my exploits with a famous ship for the Golden Fleece. Oranteo, the Prince of Lesbos, has challenged me to a battle, saying neither his land nor mine seems safe. I do not believe this, because I assert that in his own land I might best demonstrate my worth.

Albante: Does he want the sea to be the theatre of this battle?

Teseo: He desires his vile death. Where is the fame that will quieten him: my deeds, my spoils, which would occupy their tongues and eyes? He has sleept, perhaps, through that history with which so many pens are occupied, in which my consecrated name lives in eternal memory, perhaps he has not seen the golden statues, with the defeat of the half-bull monster? I point my arms, and Neptune calms the sea. Aeolus gives me wind, and by the side of the watery element, with this angry arm I stain the crystal saltwater with blood.

Fedra enters, and stops him.

Fedra: What is this, my Lord? Stop: where are you going?

Teseo: My lady, to a crazy challenge. The Prince Oranteo wishes to prove his arms with Teseo, for your sister that the villain adores. I have nothing to hide from you, this journey being such an occasion.

Phaedra: The tears and sighs of a soul in love will make the journey with you. If you die on your journey, your ship will be my grave. My dear, why should an arrogant youth like this make you leave your dearest wife?

Teseo: My Fedra, do not be afraid, for this is an honourable cause; it is not good that a man boasts in proud words, if he cannot do what he claims. Hercules, what would he say? What would Jason and the Thebans say, if it were known in Greece that I did not break up in my strong hands this coward, who just yesterday was recording his first eensy-weensy glimmering of mustache?[7]

Fedra: Well, my sweet, they will say that the remora Fedra stopped you from going to this challenge, because I have embraced you like ivy, like an elm is without arms when they are tied in affectionate knots. Hercules occupies the dais of Iole, that beautiful queen, where they say he is spinning like a timid maid. If they know love, they will see that this is love, not cowardice. Jason left to go to war more than once; and in the same way angry Mars loved, and dropped down to the ground; he put his diamond weapons aside, and the boy Love, naked, played with his helmet and shield. Taken in a steel net, Vulcan showed the conclave of the Gods his fierce appearance, and they mocked his strong hand, although well the most honest would also have been caught in such nets. You have made exploits that can excuse any cowardly suspicions regarding this journey; knowing who you are, hang the sword, for a lion never showed his fangs to tender lambs.

Teseo: Fedra, I cannot leave off going to Lesbos; but I will do a thing which exceeds it in fairness, which is to take you with me, sweet wife, and offer the spoils that I will seize there to your beautiful eyes. Are you agreeable with this prospect? Will you return to the sea?

Fedra: With you my husband, I will happily pass the water of oblivion, and the sandy fields warmed by the sun of sterile Arabia and scorched Libya; I do not want more glory than to accompany you and see you.

Teseo: Come with me, certain of victory, if his name merits this punishment.

Fedra: Now these things show how the heart governs our souls.

They go.


Scene 5. The shepherds come to the temple, crowned, with music and much joy. They dance.

They made Venus of May [8]

Always an interesting goddess

The shepherds of the island

Have more empire here

As the months of May

Are her best months

And because they are all green

And because the goddess is green

Belisa and Antandra

Would walk to the spring

And the people that would pass

Would sing this joyfully:

“Give for the May

What is beautiful and elegant.”

Riselo went by and gave

A doubloon for pins

And Fabio gave for slippers

That feet may perform always.

Bato went by and gave nothing,

And shepherdesses, on seeing him

Such a coward in giving [dativo = neo-Latin methinks]

They sang in this way:

“Pass by, pass by, the skinflint

That doesn’t wear white nor is he crowned”

Love passed, and although naked

He would carry hanging from his neck

A quiver of golden arrows

Fletched in white and green

“Give for the May

A knight

Worthy in honour

Though not in money.”

Love, between the shepherdesses,

Would distribute golden arrows,

They would think it was money

And grab them in fistfuls

They would fall in love,

And Venus would die with laughter

To see how the would sang

And they would say by the way:

“I was going to get honey from the beekeeper,[9]

And he is stung by a bee because he does not return.”


Liseno: It was sung and danced well.

Floreno: Famously, in faith.

Fabio: How good the jokes were!

Fineo: If love is always broke, why would he be given a go on this occasion?

Diana: So as not to insult the May.

Fineo That is your mother-wit, and it’s not sensible. That is ‘the dance of the skinflint’, and it always works out well for love, as it always it does those who are given what they want for free.

Lauro and Oranteo enter.

Oranteo: Now I go to the temple to see the little shepherd.

Lauro: It is well that you have done so, for it puts the heart at rest.

Oranteo: More Lauro, I marvel more the more I look at him.

Lauro: And I, the more I try, the more it appears he is the likeness of she whom you adore.

Oranteo: Stand here so we can see what they want to do.

Lauro: They will want to offer wreathes and bouquets at the temple.

Oranteo: I cannot see Montano there. If he stayed in the village, it is no longer possible for this to be a festival for me, Lauro.

Diana: Uncover the beautiful image.

Liseno: We will know who is to be king.

Doriclea: Now you have to see how curious I am about it.

A curtain is removed to show Ariadna on the altar in a spear and helmet, with loose hair.

Liseno: In faith, that is a famous thing.

Fabio: I have never seen the like.

Oranteo: Is there anything more lifelike? Lauro, how good is this goddess?

Lauro: As you are so passionate, I agree that the view is as you crave it.

Oranteo: I am greatly angered by your neglect of my warning: look at her well; it appears she has the same beauty, transferred.

Lauro: I say it is such an imitation, that it presents the same portrayal, as a crystal mirror shows the face of the one who looks at it.

Oranteo: Is that truth or a lie?

Lauro: Listen awhile to their council.

Florelo: Sovereign goddess, who will you pick from these shepherds?

Liseno: Blessed so much in love that you give your weapons to Paris, I would be king for you.

Fabio: Reach for all the heads.

Diana: Going so strongly, you’ll trip yourself up.

Fineo: Give the sign to me.

Doriclea: And to me.

The hand of Ariadna points to the heads of Fineo and Doriclea.

Phineus: Yay, I am the king!

Doriclea: And I am the queen.

Fineo: I command…

Fabio: What do you command?

Fineo: That you bear me in a twinkling, I say, on your shoulders, for I don’t want to walk, to where I will make you eat.

Diana: And you don’t command another thing?

Fineo: I command, powerful queen, that you be my wife!

Doriclea: I command that it be truly so.

Fineo: I command that it be possible for it to be so true, as to see if it is a good melon or a bad melon.[10]

Liseno: Command good things.

Fineo: I command that all fools should shut up, and that they are given the precious things that they gain by shutting up.

Fabio: This is asking the impossible.

Fineo: I command that envy leaves off, and goes to virtue, and gives good counsel, not terrible outrages. I command that no woman can ask for money.

Doriclea: Well, how will they do the housework?

Fineo: Do not be importunate, queen, or I will break your head!

Doriclea: Oh! To the queen?

Fineo: And to the devil, if I may break through a word when I’m in my greatness: I command finally that all those who play with me lose; I command that no friend has flattering ways; I command that no one be discreet with confidences; I command that a sonnet have thirty lines.

Fabio: Well, what for?

Fineo: Because poets nowadays need lots of lines; but let us leave off these diverting times, my Queen and Lady, these commands and duties: let us go, and give me your hand.

Doriclea: Sing!

Diana: Where is Montano?

Fineo: Do I smell a king?

Doriclea: You smell a bridegroom.

They go. Lauro and Oranteo remain.

Oranteo: Well said; there will not be a thing more discreet than seizing her.

Lauro: It is an easy thing to take this goddess to your palace. And in it you can contemplate Ariadna.

Oranteo: Be there.

Ariadna: Men, what is this?

Oranteo: It spoke!

Lauro: Yes.

Oranteo: Goddess, if you are offended, pardon; but you appeared to be the same as a mortal beauty that once gave…

Lauro: Sovereign goddess, that gave love advice!

Ariadna: The one you seek, Oranteo, is in these islands; and very soon you will see her. Teseo left her here, because of his wife’s jealousy.

Oranteo: Close, Lauro, the curtain, because the divine goddess has told me what it pleases her to know: she told me Ariadna is here.

Lauro: What great news!

Oranteo: Panchaea , Arabia, and Sabaea give you myrrh and amber. They will kill on your sacred altars oxen, goats and lambs, and even the fiercest bulls, if your fiercnesss required it.

Lucindo enters.

Lucindo: Is the prince here?

Oranteo: Here you hold me, Lucindo my friend.

Lucindo: My lord, all at the palace have witnessed the embassy of the arrogant Teseo, in the person of Albante.

Oranteo: And what does his Arrogance say?

Lucindo: ”Is it possible that Oranteo has such presumption? Tell him that I go to sea, in order to punish his presumptious thoughts.Not in the field of the sea, but in your palace I will enter, and I will kill you, and you will…”

Oranteo: That’s enough. Come with me; we will await him on the beach, I will make your people go on their way with the news of punishment.

Lauro: Absence makes a man daring.

Oranteo: I will have Teseo know that there is valour enough in Oranteo to take his life.


Scene 6. Enter the king Minos, Feniso, and some people.

Minos: As this is the land of my friend, we may land here.

Feniso: A captain sent word of your coming.

Minos: Where is this challenge that we have heard Oranteo intended with Theseus?

Feniso: What arrogant youth thinks to test himself in the field of the sea with the enchanted force that has robbed me of Ariadne, just to give affront; who sends a challenge, and then waits for his opponent to come.

Minos: Oranteo is very gallant.

Feniso: Sure; but the Duke of Athens is the most notable man who has ever taken arms in Greece: He had Hercules as a companion, and went with Jason to Medea in Colchis.

Minos: Arrogance may blind the most valiant, and the humble may humble the proud.

Oranteo, Lauro, and some people enter.

Oranteo: You come to my islands, King Minos?

Minos: Oh, valourous defense of my honor!

Oranteo: How so, my Lord, without telling me?

Minos: While coming with my soldiers to Athens, the fierce fury of the sea has thrown me in the arms of the wind, and puts me on your shores.

Oranteo: I am glad that it has been so. My islands thank the wind and the sea, because today they are honoured.

They touch.

Minos: Hail! What commoners[11] are these?

Feniso: Some fleeing shepherds, forsaking their villages.

Fabio: Flee this way, Liseno.

Doriclea: Diana, do not stop, there are soldiers on the beach.

Diana: I am trembling to go on, Doriclea.

Minos: What is this, friend shepherds?

Fineo: My Lord, they say the furious Duke of Athens has arrived to destroy these islands.

Minos: Already he has disembarked?

Fineo: With some soldiery –this is quite clear.

Minos: What will we do?

Oranteo: To see how the concert of the sea breaks upon the rocks! But alone would not dare.

Enter Teseo, Albante, Fedra, and some people.

Teseo: There is a person I want to speak with.

Albante: There are people here.[12]

Oranteo: Why do you come to my land in this way?

Teseo: I am lazing here that here you may offer yourself, because you know that Teseo has no dread of human strength; that the divines desire him not even to be afraid of the Gods. Here on the sea, in the court, with weapons as you wanted, I’ll give you to understand that I’ve only ever stolen away Fedra, as my proper wife.

Oranteo: I well know that you beautiful Ariadna in these islands; and as you do not have her, there is no longer a reason to make battle or war.

Minos: If that stops your part of the quarrel, do not think, traitor, that it ceases mine. I am Minos who you with such stealth robbed of his beautiful daughters.

Fineo: What devils brought this king Minos or Minus out of Crete?

Teseo: Well, what do you intend now, if Fedra and I are married, and I have brought Fedra with me?

Fedra: My king and Lord, I am here.

Minos: Daughter, though my soul rejoices, to see you without your sister gives me reason to be sad. Oh, that the Gods had given Teseo and beautiful Ariadna into my hands, or that I had taken this armada of over a hundred sails to the depths!

Oranteo: I will help you now that you have become less arrogant.

Fineo: I want to stop this war. Do you know me, unconquered Duke?

Teseo: Who are you?

Fineo: Can you not tell Fineo?

Teseo: Oh, my Fineo!

Fineo: I have lived in these forests since you left me.

Teseo: And what of Ariadne?

Fineo: She is dead.

Teseo: Dead?

Fineo: Yes, but here is a shepherd here who watches twenty sheep and is something extraordinary. I will bring him, or should I say, her, out of danger. You will laugh, when you return to sea, of this king Cumin-os, kinsman of Caraway.

Teseo: Go with all speed; we Greeks are notable for our industry in such grave business.

Fineo: Wait, while I go for her.

He goes.

Teseo: King Minos, and you, Oranteo, it is not because I am afraid that I acquiesced to give over Ariadna; but only because in these lands she has turned into a shepherd, cheerful and happy to escape from Feniso.

Feniso: From me, why?

Teseo: Because you know that woman, if she hates, will try any nonsense.

Minos: Should Ariadna come, though it be in this guise she seems to prefer, it will be as if she gives me life.

Enter Fineo and Ariadna.

Phineus: Beautiful Ariadna arrives!

Ariadna: It’s not me, don’t you see?

Minos: The living Gods, that is her!

Oranteo: No it isn’t, my Lord; that is a youth that here watches the sheep of this Fineo, who I have seen a thousand times in these forests.

Fedra: How not? Give me your arms.

Ariadna: I beg you to stop: my master is here watching me.

Teseo: Fineo, what joke is this? By Mars, that is Ariadna!

Fineo: Well it is time to be known; all of you give the hands of friendship.

Oranteo: Then what is she?

Fineo: And I, who should I be? Fineo, the greatest friend of Teseo.

Diana: Aiee, Doriclea! Montano is a woman!

Oranteo: Heavens! Today to your glory I will make Lesbos celebrate my story.

Minos: Daughter, I am sorry to see you in such a state; but finding you has given me significant joy. Take the hand of Oranteo, and we will make peace for the feast.

Fineo: Give Doriclea to me.

Doriclea: I am your slave.

Theseus: Here ends the emnity.

Oranteo: And the play.

In one of the proper versions, Ariadne is married to Dionysus at the end: here they are in a wedding chariot, with lots of cats.

In one of the proper versions, Ariadne is married to Dionysus at the end: here they are in a wedding chariot, with lots of cats.


[1]subiendo los dos por las escalas’. I have no idea what this refers to.

[2] In one version of the myth, the Goddess Artemis (Diana) is angry with Ariadne, and kills her after she is abandoned on the island. So this Diana is Lope de Vega being very silly and postmodern with the original story.

[3]filomocofia’ which doesn’t seem to be a real word anywhere

[4]abrazado’, which is ‘seared’, but ‘abrasado’ seems to make much more sense.

[5] This would have been performed on a bare stage, hence the necessity for the characters to occasionally describe the scenery like this.

[6]mueso’, which is also defined as ‘an adjective to describe a lamb with very small ears’; as a noun it means ‘morsel’, so it might mean something like ‘scrumptious’.

[7] There is one very short word for this in Spanish.

[8] These lines are attributed to Fedra, but that doesn’t make any sense to me.

[9]la colmenera’, which ought to be ‘lady beekeeper’, but it goes with the masculine pronoun in the next line. Also the verb ‘to get’ used here can mean something rude, so I suspect there is some double entendre here that I don’t understand.

[10]melón o si es badea’, where badea is defined as low quality melon.

[11]This is that word caja again whose meaning I haven’t been able to find.

[12] Henceforth Albante will be known as ‘stating-the-obvious-man’.

Scene 1. Enter Teseo, prisoner.

Teseo: When the little bird sits on her nest through the long angry nights of winter, and waits for the dawn to bathe the mountains in an icy ray, she sees the fields: the straw of the pleasant fields changed to a rich crown of hyacinth and amethyst, as the sun’s rays change the sad night. I have a different destiny: in the cold dark night, in this prison which is my fate, I have no place for hope. Unhappy he who is in a prison so strong that he does not hope for the dawn of day, for it is the night of his death!

Enter Fineo.

Fineo: It would be good if you could give me some glad tidings in this evil time.

Teseo: I do not know, Fineo, of whom you speak in this style. The entrance of the murderous Minotaur draws near. Whoever in their life found glad tidings to give in going to their death!

Fineo: May this unjust sadness leave you, and in this prison you will see more than the sun; mark my words, more: two most beautiful sun. Your situation, or I should say your good fortune (since there is no situation you would wish to engage in that was so miserable), is that there are two beautiful Ladies who are obliged to to see if it possible for you to live or not. At the end of your night you will see two dawns: for coming to see you are the most beautiful Ariadna, daughter of this King Cumin-os, who with such crazy ideas smooths over the insult you have had; and Fedra, her beautiful sister.

Teseo: To see me?

Fineo: Yes.

Teseo: Who told you that my star favours me so?

Fineo: Tonight there are two, after the two there will even be three, and I know the third is love, which is blind and a God. It is true that I moved them with a most illustrious speech, as in the Spanish fashion of the province where I was born. Because serious authors write, they say, that there the greater part of the inhabitants trample over the truth. Ariadna was moved with pity for you, and this has caused her sister to feel the same affection. Now here come the two. They will tell you the rest.

Teseo: Notable news you give me.

Enter Fedra, Ariadna, and a Warden.

Ariadna: Is he here?

Warden: Yes, my Lady.

Ariadna: Why is he in such a dark place?

Warden: The king commanded it, as he is being given to death.

Ariadna: Get out.

Fineo: They are coming to talk to you.

Ariadna: Are you the Duke?

Theseus: Angel, I am the Duke Teseo. No longer a prisoner, because I see that I am in a different heaven. I am free, only captive of your rare beauty, my lady. Here in this night of sadness, that I should receive no lesser glory.

From where, beautiful Ariadna, have you come as the true sun, without any news of the morning reaching me first? It is no longer possible to come to a bothersome death, nor budge good fortune, now that you hold the wheel.

And you, heavenly Fedra, who accompany her beauty, into this dark cell you have made a window to the east. Can you understand how right it is for me to thank you, if only because you have thought to speak to me in my distress? The Gods, who would make you so adventurous, should reward your pity.

Fedro: One who suffers such a severe imprisonment without guilt, surely has hope that heaven will release him.

Teseo: Hope and consolation have reached me at the same time.

Ariadna: Duke, pity and piety, and seeing your illustrious person, most worthily crowned name of your city, has moved my affectionate heart to attempt your rescue, placed as you are in the middle of a well-known danger.

All tonight I have thought about how you could enter and leave that place of so many closed doors. And as always, love is the teacher, and it is usually more subtle in women, I found the best solution. I will give you a golden thread, which you must tie to the doors, for then you able to return following the same path. You cannot lose the door if you follow the thread, and you will end up at the horrific monster, and vanquish it. To do this you must carry three loaves, poisoned so that the beast will lose it senses in that place. Then, with a mace I will give you, long and strong, give that beast death, bathing that uncultivated field in blood.

But because my father will know who gave you the skill to do this thing, and in his angry raving will take vengeance on my love, you must give us your word to take us to your land. If he wishes revenge, and tries war, there it will be possible for you to defend us.

Teseo: I give my word to heaven that you will be, and you are today, my dear, my queen, and my wife. And it is a little prize to give to such as you, when you have given a man life, and yourself a name famous among women. Trust my commitment as a man of good birth, who has come here to face death for the good of his nation: I will not be ungrateful for the good I have received of your hands, my Lady, if I leave alive.

Ariadna: The heavens give you life.

Teseo: You will be Duchess of Athens if I come out of the dark maze alive, and I swear to serve your serene lights, which are like clear arrow-slits through which the Gods of heaven show themselves for mortals to see, as through a golden lattice: and may all heaven fail me if these words of mine should fail.

Ariadna: May heaven protect your life and return you to your native soil.

Theseus: The ship that brought me is only waiting to return with news of what has happened to me; the same ship must take us from here secretly.

Ariadna: I would not want the king to form an evil misconception. Let us go, Fedra, I will see to providing Teseo with the weapons.

Teseo: Already I desire to see the danger.

Fedra: Courage, valiant Duke!

Fedra: Just that voice, beautiful Fedra, is like the sound of the trumpet that gives the warhorse courage.

The two sisters leave.

Teseo: What are you waiting for, fierce tyrants? Come for me.

Fineo: Little by little.

Teseo: With so many crazy favours, I have the world in these hands.

Fineo: Well, do not let it fall. Hold it steadily because it is in a delicate state, and you might break it. Ladies break easily, all daintinesses and annoyances, and feminine things, like Phoenixes from their own flames. They will break with a thousand discretions, purely circumscribed, by exquisite words they go to look at ideas, they will break a thousand times when they are scheming to get the gold of foreign blood, a treasure they once paid for, and they will break… we must shut up, there is great danger in talking.

Teseo: We need to figure out how to get the ship away.

Fineo: Then you count on defeating this fierce Minotaur?

Teseo: I count on having the green laurel of victory girded on my forehead.

Fineo: They tell me that this animal does not stand on protocol, and much evil is to be feared from something that is both man and bull. This beast, which has contempt both for the sky and for the abyss, is like a knight in itself, as fools often are: because it is also a man above the neck, and a bull below, as in Spain the Tagus is very much like both grass and glass. I assure you that myself, I am trembling with fear.

Teseo: And I cannot fear after seeing Ariadna?

Fineo: And the two you have to take with you?

Teseo: Needs must.

Fineo: My god, the two of them make a wild cargo, and who can complain about the sea! But because you are able to lead and are not scared of the weight, they can go in the saddlebags, one in the back, and the other in front.

They go.

Ariadna giving Theseus the golden thread.

Ariadne giving Theseus the golden thread.


Scene 2. Outside the Labyrinth of Crete. Enter prince Oranteo and Lauro.

Oranteo: The king of Crete writes me, seeing that my army has sallied forth.

Lauro: He is troubled by fear.

Oranteo: That is because of my vengeance. Fame, which interprets all things, anticipated the day of my departure, so it was destined that even as he first saw my ships, she would persuade him to grave fears. No flag would flutter in the wind, no pennant would threaten the water, nor would the reeving set the topsail high, nor the pilot plot our path to when the echo of the bellicose instrument would sound on the Cretan beach: and fear would returns to the backs of the people who would lead there.

Seeing his letter, in which he offered to give me the beautiful Ariadna in marriage, I have joyfully returned to Crete to be married. Sometimes the soft peace, that does not attempt war, is the best policy. Love dismantles the strongest armour, because from its first birth it is as naked as a child, and blind. Laying down the club, we may cry: long live peace and quiet. It is true that before I surrender to Minos I want to know if the wily fellow, made ill-tempered by the royal bastard, has plotted tricks here in Crete; if it is deception, then the carved masts, and the canvas by the restless waves, will grasp the sea with a new armada, and with two grievances I will draw the sword.

Lauro: My Lord, you have done well to go secretly to know if he has cheated you, beaten by your sedulous fame and your threatening forethought.

Oranteo: There is the Labyrinth shining resplendently in the middle of the field, the work of Daedalus, which you can see surpasses the work of the celebrated Archimedes; in it the Minotaur is imprisoned, who is sustained by defeated Athens, ever since it surrendered the presumption of its battlements to Minos, crowned with laurels. No satyr, faun or centaur has been seen, no monster of the Libyan sands, so terrible and of such prodigious fame.

Lauro: Sad the Greeks who are named to such a fate!

Oranteo: See how, through grilles and from balconies, the people look at the well-formed man who has entered the Labyrinth.

Lauro: If you sit here, my Lord, you may look upon him with pity fair.

Oranteo: He enters armed.

Lauro: At such a time, how can bronze or even diamond arm a man?

Oranteo: I pity his person and his bravery. Let us leave, Lauro, to see to the challenge.

Teseo and Fineo, with a mace, enter alongside.

Teseo: Show the mace, Fineo, and favour me to Mars.

Fineo: I am trembling to see you in such danger, Teseo.

Teseo: What a strange destiny of war: but it little irks me, if I have vanquished my fortune, which is the greatest monster on the earth.

Fineo: I have not seen this beast except in pictures, my Lord, but with your heroic courage, what monster out of Libya could make you fear? Apollo, the God so skilled and valiant, killed the snake named Python with bow and arrows; Hercules, because Jupiter gave him strength, killed the fierce Hydra, which was honoured afterwards in the sphere of fixed stars. But if those two here saw this fierce monster, they would surrender arrows and steel to the courage I see in you.

Teseo: If from this challenge I emerge a man equal to Hercules, to Jason, to the Greek Telamon, how much should the homeland owe me thanks?

Fineo: What an animal that has put you in such a spot!

Teseo: Love sends me audiciously to face this.

Fineo: What is born of a woman like this beast! Moreover, of who could it be born but a being of the same kind? There is just as much to be surprised by in those born to anger, flattery, lies, and in a monster to cause trouble. By God! That is not more strange than the character of one who serves two, and will deceive them both. If you have seen the monster of jealousy, believe me, bellicose Duke, it makes the Minotaur look as beautiful as the heavens. If you saw ingratitude, you would say it was the greater monster, and it is not a small love that makes the eternal soul uneasy.

Teseo: I want to tie the golden thread here.

Fineo: Jupiter go with you: I cannot go on to witness your courage. I feel sorry and I cry.

Teseo: Holy deities, favour me; Mars, favour me; please, I ask, and to you I pray, my love, because you have overcome all the Gods of love. Favour me, beautiful Ariadna,you who gave me these weapons, because you say that you will conquer like a sovereign deity! If I get out of the snares here where I contemplate my death, I will make your neck a temple, and garland it with my arms.

Theseus goes.

Oranteo: Has the Athenian entered?

Lauro: He entered to the applause of the people.

Oranteo: And already my sun has left his balcony from the east. Come on, Lauro, let us see if we can see amyhting without being found out; for in our absence I fear the things we do not know.

Lauro: Love, my Lord, everything is fear.

Fineo: Already the people, hurting for the brave Teseo, leave their windows and grilles; all are assured of his death. But I think he has arrived at the square that is at the centre of the labyrinth, and is there with the other valiant Greeks.They will not go meekly through the corridors to be fodder for this half-man, half-bull, no matter how barbarous and fierce!

Oh heaven, to lose my good master to the hands of a bull! I am about to go in. Will I? I guess I am not afraid, so long as I don’t lose the golden thread. If I lose the gold, it is not possible, because a woman’s monster without gold is a thing out of fairy stories. Even in business here, we will never guess right, we will never be able to do anything right, if we lose the thread of gold that has gone with the women. No noise can be heard now.

Oh, Pasife of Hell, whyever did you make a bullman, and not a manstag! Because deer are cowards, and although armed, they will flee; but bulls are brave, more so than men who are a mixture of many things. The night is deep, and his lights ignite the moon in the sky, and now two shapes are coming here: If they are the shadows of fear! But now, what can I fear?

Fedra and Ariadna enter, dressed as men, with capes and swords.

Not dressed as men in this picture, though.

Not dressed as men in this picture, though.


Fedra: He went in good spirits.

Ariadna: I come in the spirit of hope, which sustains my body.

Fedra: With this costume, we will go to await safely at the door of the Labyrinth, until we see what heaven decides.

Ariadna: Is someone there?

Fedra: There is something – Ariadna, it moved.

Ariadna: It must be Fineo.

Fedra: We are nearly there.

Ariadna: Fineo!

Fineo: My name has been called.Woe! Good spirits: I am glad you have arrived! Who goes?

Ariadna: You don’t know?

Fineo: I know your voice, and I think if it were known that you were at the same door as Teseo, it would be part of causing a most glorious defeat.

Ariadne: I am sorry I was not here earlier.

Fineo: I sense a noise within the gates.

Ariadne: If there is noise in there, then the monster is dead.

Fedra: I think so.

Teseo emerges.

Teseo: Thanks be to the high gods that I have come out alive from the blind Labyrinth! Who goes there?

Fineo: Two angels and Fineo.

Teseo: Ariadna and Fedra?

Fineo: Yes.

Teseo: Beautiful lights of heaven!

Fineo: Softly, do not speak of lights: for this darkness is better.

Ariadna: Teseo, to see you alive has placed me in as much glory, as I was placed in sorrow and torment by my fear; I want to give my arms to you as my husband.

Teseo: I cannot yet answer you with joy.

Fedra: Though I am the least of those that have augmented your fortune, Teseo, instead of thanks I ask for your arms.

Teseo: In them, beautiful Fedra, you hold the heart of its owner.

Ariadne: How did your bliss come about?

Teseo: I tied the golden thread, and entering the Labyrinth, I went around a thousand streets by infinite detours; when I would think I would be in the centre of the labyrinth, I would be most far from it, and near when I was far. Finally, I arrived at a place where there was a little square, where the Minotaur was lying between various bones. There I saw a corpse, and I imagined that within a short time my own dead body would join it. But my soul cheered within me, and I approached the horrible monster, which put itself on all fours and looked at me, dreadful and fierce; then I threw those loaves to him, and he, given them, began to swallow his death in the enciphered venom. Spiritedly I raised my mace, and with the first blows, with two horrendous bellows, I knocked the monster to the ground. I left the grass bathed in foam and blood, and seizing the tip of the thread, followed it back to the door.

Ariadna: Thanks to the high Gods! But, gallant Teseo, there is great danger, and need for great audacity. We must go to the sea. My proud father will certainly sense that we are not at home, and there will be no apology or remedy that will let us get away with our lives.

Teseo: The ship stays in port with my friends and servants.

Fedra: Well, what are we waiting for? Let’s get going.

Teseo: Come, my Lady. And you, Fedra, take the hand of Fineo.

Fineo: I will be the Morning Star today, leading the sun with my hand!

They leave.

Theseus with Ariadne and Phaedra, obviously looking for trouble.

Theseus with Ariadne and Phaedra, obviously looking for trouble.


Minos, Oranteo, Lauro and Polineces enter.

Minos: A remarkable affront has been given.

Oranteo: My Lord, I did not think, that I would come here without anyone knowing, until in Crete I found it was known that my absence had cause t to be forgotten, but, as I am here already, sir, you know how I am yours; give me your hand to kiss.

Minos: By the sovereign Gods, I give infinite thanks for our peace, Oranteo.

Oranteo: I only wish to serve you.

Minos: Today Ariadna will be your wife; for that is a good use of my daughter. I will console Feniso by giving him Fedra.

Oranteo: And I will take your honest hand.

Feniso enters.

Feniso: Write of fame in stone, steel or in gilded bronze, a deed of great valour.

Minos: What are you talking about, Feniso my friend?

Pheniso: It is Teseo, my Lord. He has the victory that heaven wanted: he is Teseo, victor.

Minos: Well, how did he get in?

Feniso: I do not know how he entered. I know that Daedalus begged to come in, and came, and saw that his industry had been in vain, because in the middle of the square he found the dead Minotaur.

Minos: By Mars, who has plotted this deception!

Feniso: If it was a conspiracy, threaten his invidious life, and he will tell you the truth.

Minos: Call Teseo, too.

Soldiers: He has not reached the city; he thinks that this trophy is not likely to win your friendship.

Minos: The Greek has done well to flee and not to try my wrath.

Oranteo: To help you in your sorrow, I pray, that my love may be of merit.

Minos: Call to my daughters, for today Fedra will have in Feniso a noble husband, and Ariadna must be Oranteo’s.

Oranteo: May the powerful heaven increase your power!

Feniso: May your dominion spread from the south to the cold north!

Minos: With such sons-in-law, I hope to make war on the world.

Oranteo: Today I wish to tell you my intent: You have no son, king Minos, and for this reason your successor must be named from the husbands of your two daughters.

Minos: I wish you two to govern this realm together.

Oranteo: If I may ask, it would be better served whole, whether it is yours or mine. If divided, I despair of pleasure and peace, because love and lordship do not permit company.

Feniso: Neither would I like it: I have enough mettle to govern all of Crete.

Oranteo: And I for the government of the world, if it were subject to my valour.

Minos: Move on, sons-in-law! I am alive, so what is your trouble?

Polineces enters.

Polineces: There is no sign of your daughters in the palace.

Minos: What do you say?

Polineces: Things have gone very badly, if what they say about him coming was true.

Minos: Be warned well, Polineces, there is my death in what you say.

Polineces: I say, my Lord, that the weddings these two expect, are turned completely into unhappy tragedies, because it appears that Teseo has carried the girls away by sea.

Minos: How does it appear to you, Oranteo?

Oranteo: It is not possible to promise anything without the will of heaven.

Minos: Was there ever such great audacity? He came to avenge Athens; but I feel it is impossible he meant well regarding my daughters, considering his origin. Pasife, mother of a bull, how is it possible that you bred these girls who go with such dignity and royal decorum? I go to follow him, though the sea is heavy, by Mars who I worship! I am Minos; the ways of the sea I know well, though they are uncertain. Look out, Teseo thief!

He goes.

Feniso: I have lost the kingdom, but not the desire.

Oranteo: Aiee, Lauro, I have made blunders!

Lauro: That Ariadna has forgotten you, and goes with Teseo!

Oranteo: If Fedra is in love, which is the thing that I believe most likely – to ease my fear- and she takes Ariadna with her, then we do not blame Ariadna. But if she is moving with her… Oh, my vain hope! Oh, my contrary star! Love may not give him the things of love, but I will think that in his love they will accomodate great shortcomings, because to fear the worst is a sensible condition. Come with me, that we may make war on Athens for vengeance.

Lauro: You think there is something to fear from a woman?

Oranteo: Yes, Lauro, for at the centre of this whole thing is a woman.

They leave.


 Scene 3. The Isle of Lesbos.[1] Teseo and Fineo enter, disembarking.

Teseo: The sea has treated us badly.

Fineo: The sea, who does it ever treat well? I don’t know who in the world it has not given sorrow.

Teseo: I took harbour in these islands because they look toward the land.

Fineo: Well, , it was well advertised that they are not warlike here.

Teseo: I am fearful to enter Lesbos.

Fineo: It was right to land here; it appears the sea is the judge, of what is cast within it.

Teseo: Pretend that you are the judge, and make me confess.

Fineo: What are we afraid of?

Teseo: Having no peace.

Fineo: Why?

Teseo: Because there are two women.

Fineo: Two men and one woman are often seen; but it is astonishing to see two women and one man, because that is not usually seen.

Teseo: Enamoured married men, don’t they serve two women?

Fineo: Yes, but their pleasures are empty and taste of water.

Teseo: We have to leave one.

Fineo: Where?

Teseo: In these islands.

Fineo: Good!

Teseo: Good, or bad, I am full of love, and do not have time to argue.

Fineo: Why should it matter if you are full of love, seeing who you have become? To forsake women is not a decent thing for men of your worth; and Fedra does not deserve to be abandoned.

Teseo: You are a fool, not understanding how I am going to deal with the problem.

Fineo: Fedra?

Teseo: Fedra, well.

Fineo: What are you saying?

Teseo: That I adore Fedra. Fineo, and that it is not right to be scandalised of a righteous desire. On the road of the sea, I fell in love with Fedra.

Fineo: If righteous or unrighteous it was to fall in love, I do not want to dispute; but to leave Ariadna: this is a vile deed, my Lord, unworthy of your status, and a villainous ingratitude. Ariadna gave you your life on a remarkable occasion, and it is not right that you repay her so.

Teseo: You talk to me in such a way?

Fineo: I am your servant, but I am a honourable Athenian.

Teseo: Villain, I would give you death.

Fineo: You will not kill me as a monster of ugly flattery, but as honest Fineo, who was born in your house; and if I flee your fury, it is only out of respect of the bread I ate with your father, and my Lord: otherwise I am glad to stay for such an occasion of honour.

Teseo: Watch out.

Fineo: You have passion, and you will regret killing me.

Fineo flees, and Ariadna and Fedra enter, with two or three servant Musicians.

Ariadna: What is it, my dear?

Teseo: Here I asked an islander what cities or what towns adorned this district; and for some reason or other, he said many arrogant things to me, about how he would take our lives and how we should not turn our backs.

Ariadna: Well how, being a foreigner, were you to know that travellers were supposed to be humble here?

Fedra: Teseo might not have remembered that we had left the sea.

Teseo: This green meadow is adorned with many flowers, inviting the eye and making the soul rejoice; sit down here, and listen to the sound of water falling, to give an instant tribute from these high rocks to the sea. They will sing something for Ariadna to sleep to, because the sea has treated her so poorly.

Ariadna: Jealousy has treated me worse.

Musicians: What songs should we play, my Lord?

Ariadna: You can sing of jealousy.

Fedra: Jealousy is not for singing, but for crying.

Ariadna: Some cry and others sing.

They sit and the Musicians sing.

Musicians: A bad night has given me jealousy; such as she has who I have made jealous.

What a bad night that has given me your jealousy! Filida mine!

Oh, God, if ever arrived the day when I see that you have decieved me!

All the night has passed with a thousand dreams and sleeplessnesses;

The jealousies woke me, and I commanded love,

Like the love she has who I gave love to.

Teseo: Is Ariadna asleep?

Fedra: She sleeps.

Teseo: Fedra, so adored of my soul and of my eyes, get up.

Fedra: What words are these?

Teseo: Soon you will see the love you owe me: get up. Ahoy, noble-hearted greeks! Hie, to the beach!

Fedra: What are you saying?

Teseo: That you will go from here in my arms.

Fedra: Sister, sister, Ariadna!

He takes her in arms, and Ariadna wakes.[2]

Ariadna: It seems that I hear my name, and I am glad, because otherwise I would be alone with a thousand heartaches from the dream that pierced my soul. I dreamed that a brown goshawk drew a dove from the nest where I was sleeping, and that it took her in its wings over the waters of the seato a distant shore. Oh, my dearest Teseo! Oh, my Lord, my hope, my husband! He does not respond? Where is he? No-one speaks to me? No-one is with me here? Aiee, it was not for nothing that my heart was fearful! He has taken my sister, he has left me sleeping, but has awakened my anxieties.

From this rock I will see if my suspicions have deceived me: there is the boat. Oh, heavens! Already it is far out over the sea, all the sails extended with the wind of my hope – though it should not be necessary, the wind of my sighs is enough! Oh, cruel Greek! Oh, betrayer! How well, ingrate, you have repaid me for the life you owe me! Oh, Fedra, also ingrate! Although I cannot believe that you are complicit in the cause of my death. If Teseo takes you by force, sister, I am going to throw curses, and they will stop you from going with him, because they would not catch you like they catch betrayers. More, may God grant that on the day he disembarks in his homeland, his greatest friend will kill him in your his own house! I do not know what I shall do. What I see makes me lose heart; what I leave destroys me; what I feel unmans me.

Fineo enters.

Ariadna: Someone comes.

Fineo: I hear voices. Have Fedra and Ariadna gone to the beach? Oh, heaven! Beautiful Lady Ariadna!

Ariadna: Who calls my name in my misery?

Fineo: You, my Lady, miserable?

Ariadna: Miserable, because Teseo has left me, and taken away my sister.

Fineo: I am furious to here that. I tried to stop him from doing such a vile deed, and he drew his sword on me. I turned my face to him, and with justice, because to turn your back to a traitor is to face him, in as much as they have a face. He carried out his wish: do not cry, beloved Lady. That, in short, is mother Earth, stepmother of the Sea. It is the island of Lesbos.

Ariadna: Of Lesbos?

Fineo: What scares you?

Ariadna: A man I was so unjustly ungrateful to, just as Teseo has been to my love and my hope.

Fineo: You will be in disguise, my Lady, and will have the power, disguised and with me at your side, to find a remedy, with confidence secure that you have the help of heaven.

Ariadna: There they see some houses of badly hewn pine logs, covered with dry straw.

Fineo: Without doubt they are fishermen, who laugh at fortune with their small boats. Blessed is he who fishes for little fishes with dark nets, and does not command the world full of sad cares!

Ariadne: In those poor huts we will think of a remedy – or at least, for those who can find no help for pain, a quick death. Decree no memorials, no requests, remove sorrows, cure without medicines, and without fondness give gifts.

Fineo: Teseo has been very Greek.

Ariadne: They are famed throughout the world as betrayers.

Fineo: By good luck, your misfortune was not greater… Thanks be to high heaven!

Ariadna: So many miseries I have given myself, that a body leaves with honour for where the soul rises.

Ariadne being abandoned on Naxos.

Ariadne being abandoned on Naxos.


Ariadne left behind on Naxos, painted a couple of hundred years later, included just because it has spotted cats in it.

Ariadne left behind on Naxos, painted a couple of hundred years later, included just because it has spotted cats in it.


[1] In all the traditional stories, the abandonment of Ariadne happens on Naxos, not Lesbos.

[2] This words were attributed to Fedra, but I think they have to be a stage directions.


Scene 1. Outside the city of Megara. Enter Minos, king of Crete; Feniso, a captain, and soldiers.

Minos: Of the glories reached by human pleasure, Feniso, the first is vengeance, and the second is victory. Today I have had both: victory over Niso and vengeance for Androgeo.

The Athenians killed my son, and now holy Jupiter wishes my sorrows to be consoled by this other thing. My child was given to death: but your child killed you, Niso; and with this act she has given me the strongest and noblest city of Greece.

Since we first encircled its walls, the sun ran three laps from Aries to Pisces: But if for a thousand centuries the sun ran from the Golden Fleece to the Silver Scales, spreading the rays of his treasure it, I would not be enjoying vengeance now, had treason not given us the gate.

The parricide Cila killed her father the king for me, and I gave her a promise it would be unworthy to fulfill. She promised to surrender me the city, and she kept her promise, but I did not think she would have done it so cruelly. No love can be right that would send such a woman to Crete. A cruelty so great is not the duty of love’s subjects.

We have entered the city, and although she has given me the gate, I owe her nothing. We kings love victory, the important thing – whether given by treason or loyalty – but it is only natural to hate the traitor.

Feniso: Undefeated king, had Cila misled by her love, not opened the door, it would not have been possible to conquer the city. Because gallant Teseo, and all the other full-blooded Greeks, guarded it, greedy to win honour and spoils.

Believing she would be your wife, Cila gave you in one day the city, victory, and vengeance.

Now, I do not know if it is good for you to leave her waiting like this.

Minos: Everything is the work of the Gods, including our happiness: Nemesis, angry goddess of vengeance, wished that Cila lose her senses in madness and love, and that I be avenged for the death of Androgeo.

Feniso: Then you have left her desire sufficiently mocked, because, without love, there is nothing good in human life.

Enter Cila, a lady

Cila: Is the king here?

Feniso: Here she is.

Minos: What will I do?

Feniso: Hear her out, my Lord.

Cila: King Minos, master of the high walls of Crete, now victorious over the intolerable men of Athens: well do you know– and I can testify the same – that you would not have been able to catch a sight of those famous gates for many years. Your armed camp would remain outside Megara, without power to attack it, like the sun remains from when the dawn begins to give life to all those things that are hidden in the shadows, until the time the stars come making a crown of stars for the dark night, putting diamonds for its head; in the freezing cold winter, in warm sleepy days of summer, like the sun your camp would remain.

Not until I saw from the wall – to my true misfortune – a gallant on a warhorse dashing back and forth, as they paint Mars in the Fifth Sphere, armoured in glossy gorget and golden shinguards. I would give the many-feathered white helmet to those brilliant aspects and to his swift wings. You were playing with my affections with such grace, that you only had to turn your face for you to carrry away with you half my soul, leaving the other part for your return, as obedient to your eyes as your horse to the spur. With this vision I passed a thousand whole nights, finding my soul in dangerous war, until love conquered my reason and my strength, and I offered to give you, Minos, the city and my open soul if you were to take me with you.

And you, as if there were no gods to punish vice and reward virtue, would speak false words to me, broken words that speak to me, words that you break and give to the winds .

But guard yourself, you go into dangerous storms: they are in my sighs and in the sea of my eyes. For you, while he slept – what bloody cruelty! – I cut my own father’s throat and poured out his blood, the same blood he gave to my veins. I gave you the keys, and you entered the city, from which you could plunder more gold than the dawn sees when she combs herself with ivory.

Now you repay me well for a love so great: you would leave me in the land I have sold you, land that is soaked in the blood of my father. You will not do it. You were not born in the Libyan forests, nor suckled by wild beasts in the mountains of Thessaly. But if you were to go, like these, one thing comforts me: there is no misery in life that will be in death.

Minos: Cila, this grieves me very much. In short, for me you have betrayed everything, I hear you.

I wanted revenge on Athens, but not such a harsh one; I would have had a better vengeance that was not bound up with infamy. The truth is I gave my word, and I would have kept it if you had done your part in a better way. I never wished for you to kill the king; in doing so, you have lost all that you hoped to accomplish. What tale would the world tell of me, Cila, if I took you to Crete, but that I was giving you new weapons and new murderous instructions? Is it just that I call you wife, and bring such infamy on such a glorious captain because of your whims? No, Cila, I am not going to make myself infamous for your sake, nor would it be fair to divorce Pasife, my wife. Beyond that, if I carried your treacherous heart in my ship, it would cause the sea to tremble. Better you endure the land that raised you, not the sea; for the sacred sea will not consent. I will take my Gods with me, and they will also be angry.

Cila: What justice they give me with this insane punishment! So at the end, you leave me?

Minos: I cannot take you with me. I want calm seas to sail to my homeland without fear, Cila.

Cila: May the heavens show their anger such that you will never see such a chance, nor your homeland, nor see the fierce sea calm. O winds, leave your dark cave, and disturb both the waters,[1] until the moon is not secure in her blue mantle. You go to your beautiful daughters in relation, not in person, or you would take off your crown to be their vile vassal. And although you have gained these walls and been given your glorious vengeance, this memory dishonours the glory of your past. And if absence is often the subtle thief of honour, you are the vilest man ever born of woman. You cannot count all your offenses; all men would be ashamed to have so many. As men who deserve women, they would not accompany you without coming to despise you.

She goes.

Minos: What fierce anger!

Feniso: An angry woman indeed. What does she hope to achieve?

Minos: Infamy and dishonour is a disgrace to women, and she thinks that it must be of men as well, captain; and though absences can breed love, they never have for me.

Call upon the leaders of Athens, so that we may treat with them and leave them in liberty, but with the same condition: that they have acknowledged me as Lord.

Feniso: Such tribute will be the fruit of this venture.

Minos: With this I think to return to the homeland that feels my absence so harshly.

Feniso: For three years, great Lord, it has missed your presence.

Scylla rejected by Minos after killing her father.

Scylla rejected by Minos after killing her father.


Enter Polineces.

Polineces: Where is Minos?

Minos: Here, O renowned Polineces! Did you have a good journey from Crete?

Polineces: Thanks be to the heaven that that puts my mouth at your feet.

Minos: Get up. What about Crete?

Polineces: It is in peace, on the shoulders of your fame.

Minos: My daughters?

Polineces: Apollo can see no more beautiful in all of Asia.

Minos: The queen? You turn your face away? Why have you shut up? What is this? Answer me.

Polineces: My lord, it is not possible for me to answer you.

Minos: Why do you say this?

Polineces: I’m afraid, my Lord.

Minos: Is she dead?

Polineces: Would it please heaven!

Minos: I have remarkable suspicions of some wild accident.

Polineces: From pole to pole, a greater misfortune has not been seen.

Minos: The queen! Worse than death? What? Speak.I give you license, even if her case is the most outrageous in all the world.

Polineces: Your anger gives you strength, and it is not possible for me to make more excuses. I will break the , though love would be mute, honor deaf, the world blind, the sun without light, so as not to go crazy.

Know that Pasife -heavens above! – went for a short time to a forest on a certain day. On this day your cowherds were leading down the cows to where the glassy waters of a courtly stream murmur about some elms, where with lazy steps they could put off their thirst amid the shoots of grass. Pasife set her eyes upon a white and red bull, less than three years old, more tame than sullen, painted with various marks on his backs, more beautiful than anything but the stars and the sun. Points like the waning-moon on his face, a short nose and neck, eyes of emerald; with a red swirl like a riotous skein of gold where he had not tested the yoke.

Pasife fell in love with this animal, giving amazement to Crete, and there are opinions that it is mighty Jupiter, coming again as he came to the beautiful Europa, who gave her heroic name to the third part of the world, having fallen in love but stealthily coming in the form of a white bull. For certain, only he could find in his desires to perform in such a way. Pasife, anyway, has given birth – if it is Jupiter’s – to a monster half bull and half man.

It is a public scandal, and from various parts men come to see this frightening prodigy of nature, but all are agreed that it is the son of Jupiter-being through some prodigious effect made himself known to Pasiphae in the form of a white bull. So it is well understood by the wise and by the learned philosophers. Such is the force that has the imagination of all. It has grown in two years so large, so fierce and so severe, like a bull in how it writes its jealousy on the green trees, striking blows that shake them and make the thicket echo.

Jupiter can insult anyone: that’s why I named Jupiter the owner of this feat; if it was not to be his, I would shortly lose sense and life. No one less than Jupiter could have, in the form of strong Anfitrión, defeated the chastity of Alcmene and begotten the son who has won such high spoils, the great Theban Hercules, who before the down had grown on his lip is said had done such valorous deeds greater than his father’s.

Minos: Say no more of my disgrace and misfortune, tragic ambassador. My country has been good to me, and I have never seen it ungrateful, and the owner of my evil is Jupiter. Eclipsing the sun’s pure fire, turning off the lamp of Phoebe,[2] because it is impossible to see a moral man staining my honour eternally with such a monster. That fantasy of a white bull, in which Jupiter came transformed to Pasife, a shock to royal propriety, and you say has begotten the monster on her, that fantasy is a treasure that removes offence and saves the divine honour. But the vulgar have never judged well, and chose to see everything in the most discreditable light. I have had my vengeance, I have defeated Athens, but I will have to cry for my shame.

Feniso: Here are their strongest defenders.

Enter Teseo, Albante, and Fineo servant of Teseo.

Teseo: Here you have us, great Minos, the vanquished.

Albante: Here you have us, Lord, your vassals.

Minos: Valourous Teseo, noble Albante, do not call me your vanquisher. For heaven has taken victory from my hands with an event full of portents. In my house a monster is born in my absence. In the absence of a husband, Athenians. And without one how can a monster be born? How many evils are born in the world, cruel children of absence. You are avenged because Pasife has born a child half-human and half-bull, an infamous feat attributed to lecherous Jupiter, scandalous deity of such high name, but it has the baseness of a work of man. If a king made such a mistake they would say he was unworthy of the sceptre. If I did not arrange to have the lascivious God of the heavens transformed into a bull, I would have quit the honourable life of sacred honour: because when adultery is secret, it cannot bring about such condemnation

But do not think that does not concern us here; for in tribute I wish you to give ten of your men each your, to be devoured and eaten by this monster of Pasife.

Teseo: You will be obeyed as you have commanded.

Minos: On returning from this prison to your own walls, deliver to your homeland the tale of my wretchedness, as hard as it is to comprehend such a hard life.

They leave, but Teseo, Albante, and Fineo stay.

Pasiphae and the Bull

Probably the most decorous picture I could find of Pasiphae and the bull.

Teseo: Well, that was strange.

Albante: Strange. And that he takes vengeance on us for something that was not our fault.

Fineo: Ten men for a wild beast, a beastly tribute for a year: ask that he resolve on one, as there is not much sense in a tribute so importunate.

Albante: He will not have it; he shows no feeling in setting out this way.

Fineo: So that lady, his wife, fell in love with a white bull without propriety; would it not be better to want tribute in gold? What fault is that of Athens? Oh, women! What won’t you do?

Teseo: Respect the good ladies, fool.

Fineo: Now bulls run about, full of strange cravings? Oh, my Lord, such are the harms done under the cape of religion! They say Gods pretend to be bulls. A cute invention! It’s the same as going to the temple. I go to the temple, I contemplate, I give offerings, and inside the temple it is all vice and error, as it is told in this example.

Teseo: We need to think how a man could give such a thing, when we reach that place, but I do not think we will find that we can buy a life for money.

Fineo: Why not? You will find thousands- like the deaf, say -who will prefer a short and fat life, like a pig’s, and you will be able to pay them. There are those who use their lives only in vice, who will not amount to anything whether they live a long time or a short time, who are only good for fullfilling what is wanted. I’ve seen a man so bad that for a month of pleasure he sells six years of life.

Teseo: Those who seek such lives, I call beasts.

Albante: It seems to me, Teseo, that to minimise[3] the deaths from this ugly tribute, lots should be cast so that all would face the same chance.

Teseo: Well said; in general, all men will have hope that way, and the law will be the same, for it is not law if it does not reach both commoners and nobles.

Fineo: By heaven, no man will stick around in Athens!

Teseo: I will, for the law is greater than everyone.

Fineo: Minos is a fool.

Albante: He will love taking vengeance.

Teseo: Taking vengeance is possible.

Fineo: Would it not be wiser for this Minos, or Cumin-os,[4] to kill this angry monster, for isn’t he concerned for his reputation if it hangs about? Is he crazy?

Teseo: Possibly he is.

Fineo: He will do well through his wife’s weakness; because of that bull he must have weapons on his head. And today it is known that through this white bull, the unfortunate husband who has been cuckolded, is turned into a bull.

They leave.


Scene 2. The Palace of Minos. Oranteo, Prince of Lesbos, and Ariadna ,daughter of Minos, enter.

Ariadna: I cannot express my pain more strongly.

Oranteo: I am not complaining of love, for love cannot injure; I am complaining, not of that high subject; but because I was not sensible in loving so confidently, a cause that has never stopped producing such effects.

Ariadna: If my father wants to give me as wife to Feniso, because of how he has served him, it would be better pay him with my death. The best I can hope is to suffer the penalty that I have attained through my foolish confidence, but, in my excuse, love and hope have always been as good as blind men are as guides. Father writes that they will give me to this fierce captain for his services in the wars, banishing all my peace. If Minos, my father, makes this mistake, I know the effect it will have at once. As obedience is commanded, I’ll obey; but in your absence I promise my life will be short. It is not possible to resist, but I am not afraid; for if I can not resist, I know well that I can die instead. Without you I do not want to live, as well you can believe me, for when there is love, there is no strength greater than that of the thinnest woman.

Oranteo: My beautiful Ariadna, pure as the dawn, beautiful, centre of the happy soul that has you for its sky! Now my joy is over and my sadness has begun. Firmly I set myself to endure your grievances, for who will live without the sight of your rare beauty? I am so grateful to see that you feel this way, but my torment grows as even my duty grows. You would not feel so strongly, seeing me in this sad state, if you were going to forget me.

Ariadna: Then does it sorrow you, sir, that you owe me this love?

Oranteo: What can I owe you, but what I have paid? Your display has disconcerted my senses, my lady. Feeling these hurts so sure and certain, comes as news of what has been. Who has lost so much good in this unjust change, who will have confidence staying on this occasion, who believed they had possession of it with a bare hope? But if this is my destiny, that you and I are to be divided, then to withdraw from you my whole life will but prolong my death. All my troubles are arranged: it is not possible for their angers to triumph with such spoils, once I took the palm. There is more left in your soul than is set aside in your eyes.Contrary fortune intends to use me to show her power, which has no power to make what it does not want eternally for you: Always the absent owner who is absent, as you have always been to it, and for consolation I will have that you and are suffering the same, that nothing can be a greater woe after having lost you.

On these fears that are killing me, swear that you hold me in your soul, and that when you are near to forgetting me, remember how much good you could give me, you who put me in this state, Today I remain unpromised, and my happiness is fretful. I was not as happy as I am unhappy.

He goes.

Ariadna: Where do you go with such threatening absence, owner of my venturesome soul? Forgetfulness is so obstinate, perhaps because memory has no patience. Your presence threatens insolently: but sight is turned aside, it returns to your strong love, which cold blood has no taste to resist. Love, when it has given spoils, does not change the passion moving the heavens: they see the souls if they do not see the eyes. Those who play at love are sleepless, but in absence there is nothing for anger, except for that which turns love to jealousy.

Enter Fedra , sister of Ariadna.

Spoiler: in this picture she is Queen of Athens

Here is a picture of Fedra.


Fedra: You care about such things? Did you not hear the salute given at the sea today at dawn?

Ariadna: Tell me in the evening. What can come to me to equal the good that I have lost on parting with Oranteo, or to satisfy the desire?

Phaedra: What if they say it’s the king?

Ariadna: A very great evil, if Feniso comes with him!

Phaedra: Love’s law never holds over his own blood.

Ariadna: Oh, Fedra, there is no consolation for such a grave pain, because Oranteo’s absence is to love like a burning bolt out of heaven to a tree! Just like a tree is changed from green hope to something bare of its leaves and branches, scorched with flames, in the same way when love is struck with absence, though there are icy fires, it turns the green of hope into the blue of jealousy.

Fedra: I am sorry to see you in such a state. But if this beastly absence can overcome the resistance of love, the same will happen to you: if he forgets you, you will forget him.

Ariadna: Love judges what is present, and I presume that in absence I will love more, grieving more. What voices are those?

Fedra: I believe the King approaches.

Ariadna: I hope and wish it were my death coming instead.

Enter Minos, Feniso, soldiers and commoners.[5]

Minos: Cast those flags on the ground, befitting a captain without honour.

Feniso: Do not give offence to heaven, in presuming Zeus means your dishonour.

Ariadna: I hope your daughters can give you comfort, father and lord, whose honourable neck and arms have conquered so many kingdoms.

Minos: I come victorious, my honour lost.Where is the cruel woman?

Fedra: Fleeing your fury.

Minos: Daughters, I come as you see me. It is right for love to forgive, as it right for honour to be offended.

Ariadna: She has nothing to relieve your disgust.

Minos: Leave me here while I undertake revenge; not on the All-Powerful, no, that is not my place, but on the cruel woman who has offended me…

Feniso: Beware of heaven.

Minos: I do not ask for life anymore. Hail! Call Daedalus to me!

Fedra: Here comes the engineer who is most respected in all Greece – nor has any greater been seen in Asia.

Daedalus: May the Gods give prosperity to your deeds.

Minos: Daedalus, friend, how can you expect prosperity for the deeds of an unhappy man, when to console his sorrows they blame All-Powerful Jupiter for them, while it was Mars, envious of my arms and victories, who took revenge to cast a shadow over my glories? Have you seen the monster that has dishonoured the beautiful Pasife, contrary to nature, and is now here so ugly, savage, and deformed?

Daedalus: Yes, great lord.

Minos: How do I make a building to enclose this beast, of such subtle ingenuity and artifice, that one who goes into it cannot come out again?

Daedalus: After you wrote me to say that was your intention, that you wanted to confine this ferocious monster, famed as the bull of Minos, or Minotaur, I made and studied various designs, and of such models and artifacts I have selected these to present to you, as you had forewarned, so if you find any of these designs depicted agreeable, you can have them executed in stone and wood.

A curtain is carried in on which is a canvas showing the plan of the labyrinth, with the Minotaur within.

Minos: By the Gods, this is something worthy of your ingenuity! Tell me, is this the fate of the fierce monster?

Daedalus: Yes, my Lord, the monster is portrayed here, in the middle of this square. This is the gate, but there is no way to find it again once it is entered.

Minos: Well! To execute this design, peerless Daedalus, is a thing that will give you fame the world over as the most supreme and ingenious artificer – and me fame as the most unhappy man.

Daedalus: Soon you will walk these corridors and see them.

Minos: I would kill the Minotaur – but I fear the wrath of great Jupiter, if the beast is his child. As far as I care it makes no difference: it is child of envy and misfortune.

They leave.

A Plan of the Labyrinth

The Labyrinth, a plan therof, by Daedalus Esq.


Scene 3. Athens. Teseo and Fineo enter.

Fineo: I don’t want to console you.

Teseo: There is no consolation for this evil.

Fineo: You are angry at heaven.

Teseo: Today they have commanded me to embark.

Fineo: That of more than six thousand different names, yours is picked!

Teseo: Strong evil! Strong misfortune!

Fineo: You may have the good luck to hide.

Teseo: It would not be fitting, nor would they thank me for it. Oh, for evil, for so much evil, has my name been picked.

Fineo: How can it be that a man so valiant and so noble goes to be fodder for a beast?

Teseo: Because the republic is just, just because I am more valuable it must not do an unjust thing simply. Here in Athens, with equal justice and sparing none, good and evil are dealt on rich and poor alike. These ways of government differ from others, unjust and odious, where the powerful get away with what they want. Woe to the kingdom where the poor must suffer force, and the rich have the power to twist the law!

Fineo: I do not understand what this thing called justice is: surely with those who are noble, there are just exceptions.

Teseo: You must be speaking mischief.

Fineo: It’s only natural. There is a wise saying, that only in death is there equal justice for all. Anyway, what do you think of setting out to die?

Teseo: If it suits his homeland, a nobleman has an obligation to die.

Fineo: It is inevitable that your lively courage will accompany you..

Teseo: You are a loyal servant, Phineus, noble and spirited. At least, if fate has fitted me to die, my kindness has been the cause of my death. Let us go, the ship awaits, and the sea promises a calm journey.

Fineo: Better it should be troubled with all known storms…

Teseo: I will not reach salvation, since there is such a wind.

Fineo: Travelling to evil, no one has ever lacked for a fair wind.

They leave.


 Scene 4. The palace at Lesbos. Enter Oranteo and Lauro.

Lauro: What did you ask me, what unjust thing are you complaining about?

Oranteo: I am complaining of having lost my dear wife! I am complaining of the stars, which do not care if they forget. Oh, Lauro! I lived in Crete, in love with Ariadna, waiting for the day when the cruel Minos grew weary of the military government, and my hope was he would give me all he possessed. The tyrant writes that he has given her to Feniso in marriage. Feniso, from whose hand he owes his glorious reputation, with the intent to make him king of Crete, exchanging the captain’s lance for a sceptre. Minos did wrong, to ignore my love, I who am Prince of Lesbos and descendant of the divine Gods.

Lauro: I understand that, if you want to play it safe, this is the end of your hopes of conquest.

Oranteo: Lauro, if she is married, what hope remains to me? I am dead. May it please the angry heaven, to suck down their ships at harbour, and pour the raging waves over their victorious flags!

Lauro: They are short curses, but the heavens have a greater, for if you look at what has come in the post you will see that a monster of dishonour has come to Crete.

Oranteo: I have seen that fierce and frightening Minotaur, Lauro. For it they have made a Labyrinth – for that is the name given to that site where its infamy lies, and also the eternal fame of that great master, distinguished Daedalus, skilled in all arts – and in its intricate circles men are lost, unable to find the exit, condemned to death, served up to the beast to provide it sustenance and life. I have had clear warning of the monster from a host of people.

Now to the Labyrinth tall ships will go to destroy it, in so many words. I will quit this life and rob Feniso of his jewel, as the Greeks came as thieves to Troy. Come, and we will give a voice to fame, canvas to the sea, a subject to Mars, and to the fire of love more fuel.

Lauro: And advice is all you have to help you.

Oranteo: Giving advice to one in love, is like giving life to a flame by blowing on it.

They leave.


Scene 5. Outside the Labyrinth of Crete. Enter Minos, Ariadna, Fedra, Feniso and Daedalus.

Minos: The construction is excellent.

Ariadna: It is impossible to find its equal in all of Greece.

Fedra: And as news of it spreads to various nations, the wings of its fame will be given new feathers.

Daedalus: I think, undefeated Lord, that the Labyrinth were not a less impressive thing than the Minotaur, that monster of nature.

Minos: I will have you given a proper award for the work you have done – and I think, also to Icarus, your son.

Fedra: Undefeated King, here comes an ambassador from Athens.

Enter Teseo and Fineo.

Teseo: I am not an ambassador, though I suppose my nobility might give occasion to my homeland to charge me with such an important office. I am Teseo, and though I was a rich Duke among my people, fate has fitted me to be the vilest of my country. I have come to die, and with that it can be said that I am nothing. If I am more, it is by the esteem of losing my life for my countrymen: those citizens who gave you sure and certain word that they would give you each year in tribute ten men for this beast. I am, King Minos, one of these, and I tell you that out of loyalty I make no defense. And it is my honour to present myself on foot to you, for my life weighs on me, and by risking this I am counting on heaven giving me something. What do you want of me?

Minos: Teseo, you could not show more clearly the strength of the heart that beats in your noble chest. I am sorry that it is you, who the past wars have made illustrious in my estimation; but Athens desires it, and you are loyal to her. Feniso, take the Duke to a tower, while the monster sustains his arrogance.

Teseo: I’m glad to know that you mean to conceal your dishonour in such a way.

Teseo goes, and Ariadna clutches at Fineo.

Ariadne: Tell, who is that?

Fineo: Who?

Ariadna: Who just passed by, what should I call him?

Fineo: Oh, my most beautiful queen! When has my mouth deserved to kiss the happy sand where you set your feet, although it is mixed up with pearls?

Ariadna: Is this Duke Teseo?

Fineo: This is he of whom they recounts such dreadful deeds; this is he who went with Jason on the proud sea to Colchis to rob Medea; this is he who entered Hell with Hercules, the Greek, and presented diverse things to the beautiful Proserpina: for the heat that one always has in the summer festivals, a splendid little fan, and because she was disposed to dress in the spanish fashion, six cuffs like little bucklers, for in Hell they also like to uncover their wrists; this is he who helped to kill the centaurs, at the wedding table of the wedding of Hipodamia, this…

Ariadna: Enough, this is Teseo, of whose fame there has been no little news in Greece. I pity to see his youth, his fairness and his gentleness.

Fineo: God have pity on your soul for this piety, for through it can be known, great Lady, your goodness and nobility.And certainly it is wrong to throw a man to a beast, or to a fool, which I think amounts to the same thing. There will be no easy remedy, because he is taking on his conscience by killing a young man to be a morsel, like he was setting a donkey loose in a field of melons.

Ariadna: Oh, sister, who could give life to this young man!

Fineo: Well, you might, if you try it.

Ariadna: I will try it without hesitation.

Fineo: Yes, by God! For this you have a loving slave to your loveliness and your beauty.

Ariadna: Is he married?

Fineo: No, he is not married. They say God does not wish that he should see such sickness. I say sickness, a sickness of patience.

Ariadne: Come talk to me tonight.

Fineo: Man has no good that does not come from the hands of woman. May you be blessed a thousand times! But when the tail of Mars is turned, and the devil is released, every man save his face, I mean to say, his head.


[1]tantos las aguas”. I think this may refer to the oceans above and below the world in the ancient Greek cosmology

[2] That is, the moon.

[3]excusar’. I can’t find any historical meaning that makes sense, but I think it has to be something like this.

[4]cominos’ ‘Cumin’ was the first translation I found; there is a word ‘comino’, meddler, but that would have to be ‘unos cominos’, some meddlers, to make sense, and it recurs later in a context that makes it obvious that it does mean cumin here. Lope de Vega has probably written it just to make sure we know Fineo is the wacky sidekick, and as an example of a running gag that isn’t funny.

[5]cajas’. I cannot find this word anywhere meaning anything but ‘boxes’, or, very recently, ‘fighter planes’, and would just leave it as ‘boxes’ here, except Minos uses it much later addressing some villagers.


Dark street. Wet cobbles. The rain stings where it hits my face – there’s a touch of ice in it – so I keep my hat pulled low and my face angled towards the street. Even with my eyes turned down I can see Father’s feet trudging ahead of me, splashing through the puddles. I wonder if his feet ache as much as mine. You wouldn’t think it from his swinging step. I’m so tired and cold I can barely manage to trudge, but he swings his arms and whistles softly to himself, an incongruous tune that sounds like springtime.

“Nearly there, Nipper,” says Father, and he looks back at me and smiles. I’m glad he’s smiling because it means he’s pleased with the work we’ve done tonight. Pleased with the coins jangling in his pocket, and pleased with me for climbing in that high narrow shop window and letting him in the back. I don’t smile back, because I’m wet and miserable. The scraps I stuffed in my worn-out shoes are no proof against the water washing in through the holes. My arms ache from climbing and my hands are scraped and icy. The rags they’re wrapped in don’t seem to make much difference.

The other reason I don’t smile is because I don’t like him very much. Not anymore.

His name is Neddie Binks. I know he’s not my father, although he has me call him that for the sake of what he calls pathos. In one way he really is my parent, because he’s the only one who looks out for me. He’s all I’ve got, even if he’s sometimes a surly cur, too ready to fly into a temper. I still remember the day I first saw him. I was trying to steal bread off a baker’s cart, thinking the baker was looking the other way, when a big hand came out and grabbed my arm. The baker swung me up and shook me until my eyes rattled. “Thief!” he yelled, looking around for a constable, “Dirty thief!” and he kept shouting, shaking me in between for good measure.

I thought I was a goner, but then Ned was there. He strode up saying: “Tommy, you wicked little bleeder,” looking as angry as a rich man with well-fed morals. I looked around, bewildered, thinking he’d mistaken me for someone – thinking crazily that maybe there really was some other kid there – and while I was looking away he belted me around the side of the head, hard enough to send everything blurry and reeling. I was crying and trying not to cry, trying to stand up straight, while he apologised to the baker and gave him some money, cuffing me every now and then for effect. And, the strange thing was, even though I thought I’d given up caring about stealing, when Neddie Binks started talking to me like that the guilt stabbed through me, a sharp pain in my chest, and I saw a sad lady’s face in my mind, a pretty lady with golden curls and dimples. “How could you, Darian?” she said, and then Neddie took my arm and hauled me off and she was gone.

It took me a while to realise I had exchanged one captor for another.

“If you’re going to steal something, scrapper,” he hissed as he hauled me off, “you have to learn to do it right. I was watching you, and you were hopeless. Your eyes were on the damned bread nearly the whole time. A whole cavalcade of angels could have pranced by in the altogether, blowing on their curly horns, an’ you wouldn’t have noticed.”

So he offered to teach me, not that I had a choice, because, as he was ready to point out, I owed him big.

When Neddie Binks is cheerful, the world is a wonderful place. Everything is painted in luxuriant colours, like a fair or a parade or a bonfire. It’s embroidered with fantastical figures, like rich people’s clothes or the furniture you can see through their windows. Doesn’t matter if it’s snowing or sleeting, his crooked smile is as good as a roaring fireplace when he turns it on you, and you’d do anything, nearly anything at all, for a word of his praise. But when Neddie Binks is miserable, when things don’t go his way, everything is bleached and grey like swollen dead rats frozen in the gutter. The same wit that makes him say things about angels and ancient gods and long dead heroes becomes his dark and twisted master, and if you say the wrong thing, or worse still, are the cause of his displeasure, you’re liable to find yourself stripped naked, tied to a statue and flogged, left out on a snowy window ledge with no way to get back in, or forced to dress in girl’s clothes and used to bait wicked old gentleman into dark alleys. Neddie Binks likes humiliating people when the gloom takes him.

Lately, he’s been in shadow more than sunshine and I’m beginning to think of running away.

But not today – today we’ve scored big, and Neddie Binks is high as a hawk, despite the wind and the icy rain. I follow him to the place where we’ve been squatting – a half ruined house, partly burned down. It’s leaky and draughty, but after outside it feels like paradise. There’s a fireplace we can use, if we have money for coals. Tonight there’s money, and there will not just be a fire, Neddie promises, but sausages and cheese, toasted bread and beer.   I try to smile, but I can’t manage. I’m too cold, too tired, too exhausted with living on the knife-edge of Neddie Binks’ moods.

“What’s up with you, Darian?” asks Neddie Binks, looking up from where he’s lit the fire, and I blink at him. He never calls me Darian. It’s always scrapper or nipper, Jimmy ,Tommy, Johnny or spinner. He’s regarding me with seriousness, something that’s foreign to both his usual kinds of mood. “You’re not getting sick, are you?” He face crinkles with concern, making me feel guilty for thinking of running away.

“I dunno,” I say. “I’m just tired. Tired and cold.” I huddle close to the tiny scrap of flickering fire, watching it struggle against the damp of the desolate fireplace. My hands are shaking and they look very blue in the unsteady light.

Something he sees in my face seems to make him worried. “Don’t worry, Darian,” he says. “You’ll feel better once you’re warm and dry with a bit of hot stodge in you.   Tell you what,” he continues, “you did a good job tonight – the lion’s share of the work, even – so why don’t you wait here and look after the fire, and I’ll go get us some things and bring ‘em back.”

Neddie Binks might be a sadistic bastard with a twisted sense of humour, and he might be a thief and a scoundrel, but he always, always keeps his word. Unlike some blokes I know he would never say a thing like that and then wander off down the pub for a few drinks and not come back.

“Alright, then,” I say.

“Sit tight,” he says cheerfully, and he hangs his blanket over my shoulders and goes back out into the rain, leaving me wondering how I could possibly think of leaving.

But he’s not gone long before the trouble starts.

It begins with a shout and then the sound of running footsteps. I freeze motionless by the fire, suddenly icy both inside and out. More shouting. “Stop! Hold it!” More footsteps, slipping and slapping on the slick cobbles.

I know what to do. Neddie Binks has taught me well. “Don’t wait around for them to catch you,” I hear his voice echo in my mind, like he was right next to me. “If there’s trouble, go and hide. Pick one of our holes and burrow into it, like you were a snake or a rat or a rabbit, and don’t you move until the next day, no matter how quiet it seems.”

So I leave the fire, and I’m halfway out the back door into the lashing night when an anguished cry rings out, followed a long age later by something softer, a fading inhuman gurgle. The pursuing voices reach a crescendo and then fall into a concerned lull through which one carries clearly, snatched through the wind and rain. “…stolen goods…he had a confederate…search the house…”

Out in the yard it’s tangled and sodden. The ruin of a more badly burnt house looms next door. When it’s daylight you can see how the fire nearly took out the whole row. Someone’s been clearing the collapsed cellar, and tonight it’s become a great sucking hole in the mud, surrounded by steep piles of earth and ash with brown water pooling at the bottom.

The searchers seem close behind me and I scramble down behind the pile of earth.   They’re fast and lively, and I’m weary and slow as lingering death. My legs aren’t working. My feet slide haphazardly. I’m too cold to climb the leaning fence, too tired to dart off like a sparrow into the streets, so I look for a place to hide, but there’s nowhere that will do. Then, struck by desperate inspiration and Neddie Binks’ words, I kneel down and dig a burrow in the side of the largest earth pile. The outside is caked into a hardening shell, but inside the mingled ash and dirt is dry and loose, easy to shift. I throw myself into the tunnel I’ve made for myself, drawing Neddie Binks’ blanket in with me. I reach up and claw at the ash and mud above the entrance, pulling it down to gently cover me, hoping that it will be soaked quickly by the rain to blend with the rest. I pull down one armful, then another, and then suddenly it all comes down heavily in great thumping clumps, and I come down with it, slammed hard into my blanket by an unforgiving hand.

The sounds of the world recede. The rain is gone. The cries of my pursuers are left behind, abandoned in the world far above, lost and meaningless. I struggle, but there is no struggle. My limbs are pinned where they were thrown, held fast in the earth’s grip. The blanket thankfully covers my face, but there is no air, none at all. There is no chance. As I fight my impossible battle, a rhyme runs cruelly through my head, a song Neddie Binks sang when his mood was blackest.

Sally, gonna buy you a brand new bow,
      (Today O, today O)
Ribbon so red for your hair of snow,
      (Coming down today, O)
Sin’s long arm will drag me down,
      (Today O, today O)
Lawmen circling all around.
      (I’m coming down today, O)

My feet are slow but my mind is clear,
      (Away O, away O)
There’s just one road away from here,
      (Going far away, O)
Sally don’t know so she won’t cry,
      (Away O, away O)
And I’ve got no wings to help me fly.
      (Going far away, O)

Lay me down on an earthen bed,
      (Below O, below O)
Cold wet clod beneath my head,
      (Way down far below, O)
In close-drawn darkness I shall lie,
      (Below O, below O)
Sod and stone shall make my sky.
      (Way down far below, O)

Poor man’s clothes shall be my shroud,
      (Below O, below O)
No fine-spun shirt to keep me proud,
      (Way down far below, O)
No copper coin to cap my eye,
      (Below O, below O)
No holding hand to help me die.
      (Way down far below, O)

No preacher man to tell sweet lies,
      (Below O, below O)
No hypocrites extemporise,
      (Way down far below, O)
No steady shoulders bear my bier,
     (Below O, below O)
No mourning maiden sheds a tear.
      (Way down far below, O)

Take my burden, take my woe,
      (Away O, away O)
Sally, dream of me while I go,
      (Going far away, O)
Bones of silver cleanse my crime,
      (Away O, away O)
Sally, don’t wake me ‘fore my time.
      (I’m going so far away, O)


It’s not raining any more.

The walls of the ruin soar above me, rising crisp and clear in the cold night air, a silhouetted stairway of broken brick. The sky beyond is dark and gleaming, pierced by a million pitiless stars. A tree hunches by the jagged wall, skeletal winter branches reaching down in a gesture of summoning.

An impossible figure, a tiny gentleman death, skeletal face shining beneath its top hat, mounts the wall. It is absurd and yet completely solemn. It pauses to beckon to me, its macabre figure mirroring the outline of the tree.

It waits with inexorable patience.

I know I must climb, I must climb out of here, up the jagged wall. I must swim away into the pool of the sky’s reflection and then I will be free.

Last year Am&a asked me to draw a map of Kibashi. There were quite a few bits about it in the story-thus-far. For instance: “The needle-slender minarets that rose into the crisp sky, silhouetted against the brightening peach and lavender horizon, the great dark bulk of the temples lurking down by the river, and the patchwork quilt of houses, large and small, with flower beds, vegetable patches, and rock gardens.” And: “…the Pillars of Glass, the great double avenue along which the parade passed on its way to the palace to greet the Emperor on the occasion of his birthday.” And: “…encased in the stocks in the Plaza of Disobedience and had smelt the stench of the bodies that wafted from the cages that swung by the Rattan Gate.” So there were a fair few things that I knew had to be in at the end.

But the way to draw a city that looks properly organic at the end is to start drawing it at the beginning, and grow it. This is how I almost always used to draw cities on paper for my own amusement, and photoshop now gives the added fun of being able to save each step as you go along separately.

So I started out with this:

Most Ancient City of Kibashi

Most Ancient City of Kibashi

The pale line is the walls of the most ancient city, and the diamond, crescent, and circle are respectively the Palace of the Floodlord, Temple of the Moon, and Fortress of Kaab Ashai. Those things really don’t have anything to do with the story, and I don’t particularly know what they mean, either, I just felt like putting them in. North is at the right, south at the left.

Ancient City of Korumu

Ancient City of Korumu

I don’t know who Korumu is, either; but the asterisk is their palace. I had the idea, I guess, that the city which was initially of little importance was taken over by this Korumu person and made their capital.

Kibashi Gezem Rau

Ancient City of Gezem Rau

In the time of Gezem Rau – whoever they were – it has become dangerous enough again in the neighbourhood that the city needs a wall. But there are baths now (the double rectangle) and a new Temple of the Hunter King (near the Crocodile Gate) and Temple of the Batrachian Harlots (the star by the river). These are all ancient history and don’t appear in the story at all, of course.

Kibashi Gezem Rau 2

City of the Heirs of Gezem Rau

This is called the “Ancient City of Gezem Rau (Late)” in my file, but I expect it is a couple of rulers later. Things have obviously calmed down in the neighbourhood, since there is a lot of development outside the wall, and some reclamation of land as the river shifts. See, the baths have moved, and there is a shiny new Winter Palace off to the north.

Early Modern Kibashi

Early Modern City

I had the idea that these heirs of Gezem Rau were next conquered by some other entirely different sort of people who swanned in from somewhere. They have put in a more regular ‘New City’ to the north of the old city and torn down a lot of the walls and monuments of the old people. The names appearing on this map were put in later, working backwards from the names on the final version of the city.

Walled Modern City, #1

Walled Modern City, #1

Of course, it soon would have become necessary to put a wall around this new expanded city. Some of the names of the old gates have been resurrected, while some new ones have been introduced. The line of temples along the river has pretty much shaped up now, and you can where the Pillars of Glass has been driven through the centre of the city.

Modern Walled City, #2

Modern Walled City, #2

Just bloating out again, as things grow peaceful once more; and the city in the story has no walls, so it is about time for them to come down.


Kibashi at the time of the Work-in-Progress

And here it is, the city I was actually asked to make!





After a while, though, I felt like drawing cities again. And I thought, why not, I will take this fantasy city forward into the industrial age. But first, I needed a larger canvas.

Kibashi and Environs

Kibashi and Environs

Now, to put through some railways and new suburbs.

Industrial Age Kibashi, #1

Industrial Age Kibashi, #1

More railways, and more suburbs, and some industrial zones…

Industrial Age Kibashi, #2

Industrial Age Kibashi, #2

And more!

Kibashi 3

Industrial Age Kibashi, #3

By this time they have had a revolution, and the Palace belongs to the people, and I have inflicted some local government areas on them. These three versions were all in a photoshop file called ‘Future Kibashi’, which was becoming too large to open properly, especially as I wanted to make the map larger again. So I kicked off ‘Even More Future Kibashi’ with an expanded version of the map above.


Industrial Age Kibashi #3, AND environs

Industrial Age Kibashi #3, AND environs

Then made it a bit bigger.

Industrial Age Kibashi, #4

Industrial Age Kibashi, #4

And bigger.

Industrial Age Kibashi, #5

Industrial Age Kibashi, #5

This was in a new file called ‘Last Kibashi Honest’.



A few months passed.




Okay, maybe just one more Kibashi

Okay, maybe just one more Kibashi

I thought it would be neat if the Empire was restored and the new Emperor built a palace exactly like the old one, but twice the size. Anyhow, that’s it. Big enough. Though this is pre-air travel, and only has a rudimentary highway system. It is meant to be approaching c.1900 London or Berlin or Paris. Anyhow.


But that’s not the obsessive project I spent my summer holiday doing.


This is:

A really useful city map has to have names for all the streets.

A really useful city map has to have names for all the streets.


So, we have been playing Final Fantasy XIV, re-released last year, a considerable time after its incredible nose-dive  into the sun shortly after its initial release. So far so good.  There still aren’t enough quests for my tastes, and some odd prohibitions that I can’t see the point of.  Why tie unrelated side-dungeons to the main questline, so you only get access after reaching a certain quest, even if you are the right level? Why can’t we take a too-low team into a dungeon?  Why can’t we try with three people?  These latter pushings of the challenge envelope are something I have always enjoyed, despite often being punished with much death for my audacity.   It’s those radical moments when you actually manage to pull off something unexpected that make it all worthwhile.

Revisiting Final Fantasy XIV has brought back vivid memories of Final Fantasy XI, my first real MMO, and doubtlessly where my rules-lawyery-ness about following “the unspoken rules” originates. (The tank goes first, let the tank pull, avoid getting aggro if you are not the tank, crowd control is sacred).  Although recent games challenge these traditionalist MMO concepts, these unspoken rules still exist in FFXIV, along with the same snide elitism about gear.  Is there something about Final Fantasy that encourages this?   ‘Cause although it is definitely present in other games, I haven’t seen (smelt?) such strongly scented epeen for some time.

Anyways, playing FFXIV did inspire me to make a new movie, the idea of which was forwarded by my good friend Guildenstern (who has been dragged, kicking and scream-emoting, from one game to another over the last few years, despite the opposition of  completionist tendencies).  Who knows how long it will last on the interwebs, since Square Enix is apparently just as rules-lawyery about copyright as it is about gameplay.

Ah well, it’s here for now.




With Reallusion’s recent update to IClone to version 5.5, new functionality has been added in the ability to edit Terrain directly within the program.  Reallusion suggests that if you wish to create entirely new terrain, you should purchase Earth Sculptor, their add-in terrain creator, to adjust the material masks for any changes you make.  If, however, you don’t possess Earth Sculptor, it is still easy to create material masks for simple terrain projects.

This tutorial assumes a basic familiarity with both Photoshop and IClone.  There are plenty of fine tutorials available demonstrating the use of each.

For this example, we will create a simple terrain with some rocky pinnacles in a desert landscape.


1.      Setting up your Photoshop document

Load a terrain map in IClone, go to the Terrain tab, and export the height map to Photoshop.  I chose the Butte terrain.  The image you export will contain a greyscale height map of the terrain, but we are not interested in this.  Exporting the file this way simply gives you the appropriate file type and size for the project.

Create five layers above the height map.  I named them as follows:  Background, Height, Green, Red and Blue.  Once you have your new layers, you can delete the original height map, or keep it as a reference if you choose.

Fill the Background layer entirely with black (0,0,0).  This layer will represent the lowest parts of your terrain for the height map, and the fourth material type in your material mask map.


 2.      Creating and exporting the height map.

The height map is simply a greyscale representation of height, rather like a contour map.  The brightest, whitest parts of the map are the highest parts of the image, and the darkest parts are the lowest.

For this example, the flat desert plain is the lowest part of my terrain, so all I need to do is draw in my rocky pinnacles as highlights. (If you were drawing a more varied landscape, you might want to start with a dark grey background instead of black, and add shadows and highlights to create your terrain).

To draw the pinnacles, select the Height layer, set the foreground colour to white, and take a photoshop brush with soft edges and a size of about 100 pixels, and draw some white blobs where you want the pinnacles to be.  The final result should look something like this:

01 White blobs

For a more gradual terrain, you might use a brush with softer edges, decrease the opacity value of your brush, or adjust the brightness of the image.  You could choose to paint in grey instead of bright white. You might paint on layers so you could adjust the opacity of each independently. The height and smoothness of the height map is also adjustable in IClone once it has been imported.

Since the pinnacles should be relatively steep-sided, the rapid change from low to high (black to white) is quite suitable.

I took a large soft-edged eraser, of about 50 pixels and an opacity of 25%, and used it to adjust the pinnacles, as below, in order to make them a little more interesting:

02 Height map

Now is a good time to save your Photoshop document.  You should also export the Height Map, by selecting “Save As” from the File menu, and selecting .png as the file type.

If you go into IClone and load a terrain into your project, you can double click on the height map in the Terrain settings, and load in a new map.  Select the height map file you just created, load it in, and you will instantly see the basic shape of your pinnacles.  Here is mine with the Butte material map texturing it.

Pinnacle height map applied to Butt terrain

 3.      Creating the material mask map

This is the part that Reallusion would like you to purchase Earth Sculptor to do.  I have never tried Earth Sculptor.  It does look like a convenient tool, with a “what you see is what you get” style interface that allows you to paint textures directly on the terrain.  Using Photoshop requires a degree of back-and-forthing, but seems reasonable for simple projects such as this one.

To achieve a material mask with Photoshop, we will colour in the areas that correspond to four different materials that will be present in the final terrain.  It is possible to set what these materials are within IClone later.  For this part of the exercise you only have to consider which parts of your scene will use different materials.


Green layer:

Lets start with the green layer.  We will use it for the rock face material for the pinnacles themselves.  Select the Green layer, and choose a large soft-edged brush (the same one you used to draw the pinnacles is fine).  Use a pure green colour with the RGB value of (0, 255, 0).

Now, simply colour in solid green blobs covering the pinnacles on the height map you drew before.  The result should look something like this:

03 Green layer


Red layer:

Now for the red layer.  This is going to be the stony ground immediately around the base of the pinnacles. Select the Red layer.  Take a slightly smaller soft edged brush, set the foreground colour to Red (255,0,0) and draw some rings or semi-rings of red to show where this material will be.

There is no need to fill the interiors of the rings in,, although you can if you like–they should look like strange irregular doughnuts.  The edges of the red and green should overlap at least a little.

Once finished, you should have something like this:

REd Layer 1

Blue layer:

This layer is going to be some cracked ground areas in the main flat area of the landscape.  If you were working on a detailed project, you could consider including these depressions as part of the terrain map for added realism.  Here, let us simply make them a different material, for interest sakes.

Select the Blue layer, and set your brush to Blue, with RGB colour settings (0,0,255), and draw some blobs in an empty space where they don’t overlap with anything you have previously drawn.

It should look something like this:

Material Map 1

Exporting the Material Mask Map.

Export the file as a png file.  Now you can go into IClone, and load the Material Mask layer you have just created.

Pinnacle material Map applied to Butt terrain

 4.      Tidying up:

Not bad – you can see the terrain and the material map do match up – but the edges between the different materials are too blurry, especially around the base of the pinnacles, where the Red and Green layers meet.  Let’s adjust that a little.

To fix the problem above, I went back to myPhotoshop document, and increased the size of the green blobs a little.  I also positioned the green layer on top of the Red layer, instead of underneath, so all the green is showing.

Here is my material mask after tidying those edges.  It doesn’t look very different – the green area is just a little larger.

Final Map 1

After tidying, make sure the three colour layers and the background layer are the only ones visible, and export your material map again.  You may want to save it under a different name, in case you want the original one later.

Import the new material map into IClone.

Here are the results of my change – much better!

Adj Pinnacle material Map applied to Butt terrain

 Of course, your material map may require you to make slightly different changes to your material borders, but I’m sure this demonstrates how easily it can be done.  You can go back and forth between Photoshop and IClone and many times as is necessary to adjust your material map to your satisfaction.


5. Applying textures:

You can read about how to change the materials of terrains and adjust the settings in the IClone help files.  It is straight forward enough, and if you have already used IClone to change textures of props or characters, you should be familiar with the process already. With the Butte terrain, the material names correspond to the colour layers we used as follows:


Height Map 01 = Red

Height Map 02 = Green

Height Map 03 = Blue

Height Map 04 = Black

Here is what my terrain looks like after playing with the terrain settings and quickly applying some new textures to the map:

Terxtured pinnacles

Obviously better results could be achieved with a more detailed height map and  fine adjustments to the material map.  The purpose of this tutorial is, however, to demonstrate that adjusting the material masking layer is certainly possible using Photoshop and well within the capabilities of users familiar with materials, textures and layers in Photoshop and IClone.

Cover BoT smlIt may seem that we have not been writing very much over the last six months or so, and this is both true, in terms of publishing things, and not true, in terms of projects that have been trickling along the background.  In my case, I have been working on “The Changing Man,” a teen fic novel set in the universe of “Misfortune“, and also on the second volume of Aronoke,  More recently I have started a story about a traveller boy in the world of Tsai, called “Sky’s the Limit” (which may never see the light of day), whereas Chris has been diverted into completing his Narnia fan-fiction story, Bride of Tash.

Today I put up the first chapters of Bride of Tash at, and also at Archive of Our Own, which is a fan fiction site frequented by our children.  There are great drosses of trash to be found on fanfiction collection sites such as these, mostly in the style of “What would happen if Major Character X had the hots for Major Character Y?” but there are occasional gems to be found floating in this sea of mediocre slush.

Bride of Tash can also be found here, in the Freebies section, where it will be updated prior to other postings.