ACT I
Scene I.
 

Enter MYCETES, COSROE, MEANDER, THERIDAMAS, ORTYGIUS, CENEUS, MENAPHON, with others.

MYCETES
Brother Cosroe, I find myself agriev'd;
Yet insufficient to express the same,
For it requires a great and thundering speech:
Good brother, tell the cause unto my lords;
I know you have a better wit than I.

COSROE
Unhappy Persia,--that in former age
Hast been the seat of mighty conquerors,
That, in their prowess and their policies,
Have triumph'd over Afric, and the bounds
Of Europe where the sun dares scarce appear
For freezing meteors and congealed cold,--
Now to be rul'd and govern'd by a man
At whose birth-day Cynthia with Saturn join'd,
And Jove, the Sun, and Mercury denied
To shed their influence in his fickle brain!
Now Turks and Tartars shake their swords at thee,
Meaning to mangle all thy provinces.

MYCETES
Brother, I see your meaning well enough,
And through your planets I perceive you think
I am not wise enough to be a king:
But I refer me to my noblemen,
That know my wit, and can be witnesses.
I might command you to be slain for this,--
Meander, might I not?

MEANDER
Not for so small a fault, my sovereign lord.

MYCETES
I mean it not, but yet I know I might.--
Yet live; yea, live; Mycetes wills it so.--
Meander, thou, my faithful counsellor,
Declare the cause of my conceived grief,
Which is, God knows, about that Tamburlaine,
That, like a fox in midst of harvest-time,
Doth prey upon my flocks of passengers;
And, as I hear, doth mean to pull my plumes:
Therefore 'tis good and meet for to be wise.

MEANDER
Oft have I heard your majesty complain
Of Tamburlaine, that sturdy Scythian thief,
That robs your merchants of Persepolis
Trading by land unto the Western Isles,
And in your confines with his lawless train
Daily commits incivil outrages,
Hoping (misled by dreaming prophecies)
To reign in Asia, and with barbarous arms
To make himself the monarch of the East:
But, ere he march in Asia, or display
His vagrant ensign in the Persian fields,
Your grace hath taken order by Theridamas,
Charg'd with a thousand horse, to apprehend
And bring him captive to your highness' throne.

MYCETES
Full true thou speak'st, and like thyself, my lord,
Whom I may term a Damon for thy love:
Therefore 'tis best, if so it like you all,
To send my thousand horse incontinent
To apprehend that paltry Scythian.
How like you this, my honourable lords?
Is it not a kingly resolution?

COSROE
It cannot choose, because it comes from you.

MYCETES
Then hear thy charge, valiant Theridamas,
The chiefest captain of Mycetes' host,
The hope of Persia, and the very legs
Whereon our state doth lean as on a staff,
That holds us up and foils our neighbour foes:
Thou shalt be leader of this thousand horse,
Whose foaming gall with rage and high disdain
Have sworn the death of wicked Tamburlaine.
Go frowning forth; but come thou smiling home,
As did Sir Paris with the Grecian dame:
Return with speed; time passeth swift away;
Our life is frail, and we may die to-day.

THERIDAMAS
Before the moon renew her borrow'd light,
Doubt not, my lord and gracious sovereign,
But Tamburlaine and that Tartarian rout
Shall either perish by our warlike hands,
Or plead for mercy at your highness' feet.

MYCETES
Go, stout Theridamas; thy words are swords,
And with thy looks thou conquerest all thy foes.
I long to see thee back return from thence,
That I may view these milk-white steeds of mine
All loaden with the heads of killed men,
And, from their knees even to their hoofs below,
Besmear'd with blood that makes a dainty show.

THERIDAMAS
Then now, my lord, I humbly take my leave.

MYCETES
Theridamas, farewell ten thousand times.

[Exit THERIDAMAS.]

Ah, Menaphon, why stay'st thou thus behind,
When other men press forward for renown?
Go, Menaphon, go into Scythia,
And foot by foot follow Theridamas.

COSROE
Nay, pray you, let him stay; a greater [task]
Fits Menaphon than warring with a thief:
Create him pro-rex of all Africa,
That he may win the Babylonians' hearts,
Which will revolt from Persian government,
Unless they have a wiser king than you.

MYCETES
Unless they have a wiser king than you!
These are his words; Meander, set them down.

COSROE
And add this to them,--that all Asia
Lament to see the folly of their king.

MYCETES
Well, here I swear by this my royal seat--

COSROE
You may do well to kiss it, then.

MYCETES
Emboss'd with silk as best beseems my state,
To be reveng'd for these contemptuous words!
O, where is duty and allegiance now?
Fled to the Caspian or the Ocean main?
What shall I call thee? brother? no, a foe;
Monster of nature, shame unto thy stock,
That dar'st presume thy sovereign for to mock!--
Meander, come: I am abus'd, Meander.

[Exeunt all except COSROE and MENAPHON.]

MENAPHON
How now, my lord! what, mated and amaz'd
To hear the king thus threaten like himself!

COSROE
Ah, Menaphon, I pass not for his threats!
The plot is laid by Persian noblemen
And captains of the Median garrisons
To crown me emperor of Asia:
But this it is that doth excruciate
The very substance of my vexed soul,
To see our neighbours, that were wont to quake
And tremble at the Persian monarch's name,
Now sit and laugh our regiment to scorn;
And that which might resolve me into tears,
Men from the farthest equinoctial line
Have swarm'd in troops into the Eastern India,
Lading their ships with gold and precious stones,
And made their spoils from all our provinces.

MENAPHON
This should entreat your highness to rejoice,
Since Fortune gives you opportunity
To gain the title of a conqueror
By curing of this maimed empery.
Afric and Europe bordering on your land,
And continent to your dominions,
How easily may you, with a mighty host,
Pass into Graecia, as did Cyrus once,
And cause them to withdraw their forces home,
Lest you subdue the pride of Christendom!

[Trumpet within.]

COSROE
But, Menaphon, what means this trumpet's sound?

MENAPHON
Behold, my lord, Ortygius and the rest
Bringing the crown to make you emperor!

Re-enter ORTYGIUS and CENEUS, with others, bearing a crown.

ORTYGIUS
Magnificent and mighty prince Cosroe,
We, in the name of other Persian states
And commons of this mighty monarchy,
Present thee with th' imperial diadem.

CENEUS
The warlike soldiers and the gentlemen,
That heretofore have fill'd Persepolis
With Afric captains taken in the field,
Whose ransom made them march in coats of gold,
With costly jewels hanging at their ears,
And shining stones upon their lofty crests,
Now living idle in the walled towns,
Wanting both pay and martial discipline,
Begin in troops to threaten civil war,
And openly exclaim against their king:
Therefore, to stay all sudden mutinies,
We will invest your highness emperor;
Whereat the soldiers will conceive more joy
Than did the Macedonians at the spoil
Of great Darius and his wealthy host.

COSROE
Well, since I see the state of Persia droop
And languish in my brother's government,
I willingly receive th' imperial crown,
And vow to wear it for my country's good,
In spite of them shall malice my estate.

ORTYGIUS
And, in assurance of desir'd success,
We here do crown thee monarch of the East;
Emperor of Asia and Persia;
Great lord of Media and Armenia;
Duke of Africa and Albania,
Mesopotamia and of Parthia,
East India and the late-discover'd isles;
Chief lord of all the wide vast Euxine Sea,
And of the ever-raging Caspian Lake.

ALL
Long live Cosroe, mighty emperor!

COSROE
And Jove may never let me longer live
Than I may seek to gratify your love,
And cause the soldiers that thus honour me
To triumph over many provinces!
By whose desires of discipline in arms
I doubt not shortly but to reign sole king,
And with the army of Theridamas
(Whither we presently will fly, my lords,)
To rest secure against my brother's force.

ORTYGIUS
We knew, my lord, before we brought the crown,
Intending your investion so near
The residence of your despised brother,
The lords would not be too exasperate
To injury or suppress your worthy title;
Or, if they would, there are in readiness
Ten thousand horse to carry you from hence,
In spite of all suspected enemies.

COSROE
I know it well, my lord, and thank you all.

ORTYGIUS
Sound up the trumpets, then.

[Trumpets sounded.]

ALL
God save the king!

[Exeunt.]