ACT III
Scene V
 

JUPITER, AMPHITRYON, NAUCRATES, POLIDAS, SOSIE

JUPITER
What is this noise that compels me to come down? Who knocks as though he were master where I am master?

AMPHITRYON
Good Gods! What do I see?

NAUCRATES
Heaven! What prodigy is this? What? Here are two Amphitryons!

AMPHITRYON
My soul is struck dumb. Alas! I cannot do anything more: the adventure is at an end; my fate is clear; what I see tells me all.

NAUCRATES
The more narrowly I watch them, the more I find they resemble each other.

SOSIE
Gentlemen, this is the true one; the other is an impostor who ought to be chastised.

POLIDAS
Truly, this marvellous resemblance keeps my judgment in suspense.

AMPHITRYON
We have been tricked too long by an execrable rogue; I must break the spell with this steel.

NAUCRATES
Stay.

AMPHITRYON
Leave me alone.

NAUCRATES
Ye Gods! What would you do?

AMPHITRYON
Punish the miserable treachery of an impostor.

JUPITER
Gently, gently! There is very little need of being carried away by passion; when a man bursts out in such a rage as this, it makes one think he has bad reasons.

SOSIE
Yes; it is an enchanter, who has a talisman that enables him to resemble the masters of houses.

AMPHITRYON
For your share in this insulting language, I shall make you feel a thousand blows.

SOSIE
My master is a man of courage: he will not allow his followers to be thrashed.

AMPHITRYON
Let me assuage my deep anger, and wash out my affront in the scoundrel's blood.

NAUCRATES
We shall not suffer this strange combat of Amphitryon against himself.

AMPHITRYON
What? Does my honour receive this treatment from you? Do my friends undertake the defence of a rogue? Far from being the first to take up my vengeance, they themselves place obstacles in the way of my resentment?

NAUCRATES
What do you wish us to decide, when two Amphitryons are before us and all the warmth of our friendship is in suspense? If we were now to show towards you, we fear we might make a mistake, and not recognise you. Truly we see in you the appearance of Amphitryon, the glorious support of the Thebans' well-being; but we also see the same appearance in him, and we cannot judge which he is. Our duty is not doubtful, the impostor ought to bite the dust at our hands; but this perfect resemblance hides him between you two; and it is too hazardous a stroke to undertake in the dark. Let us find out quietly on which side the imposture may be; then, as soon as we have unravelled the adventure, it will not be necessary for you to tell us our duty.

JUPITER
Yes, you are right, this resemblance authorises you to doubt both of us. I am not offended to see you cannot make up your minds: I am more reasonable, and excuse you. The eye cannot differentiate between us. I see one can easily be mistaken. You do not see me give way to anger, nor draw my sword: that is a bad way to enlighten a mystery; I can find one more gentle and more certain. One of us is Amphitryon; and both of us may seem so in your eyes. It is for me to end this confusion. I intend to make myself so well known to all, that, at the overwhelming proofs I shall bring forward to show who I am, be himself shall agree concerning the blood from which I sprang, and he shall no longer have occasion to say anything. Before all the Thebans I will reveal the truth to you; the affair is, unquestionably, of sufficient importance to justify my seeking to clear it up in the sight of all. Alcmene expects this public testimony from me; her virtue, which is outraged by the noise of this mischance, demands justification, and I will see justice is done it. My love for her compels me to it. I shall call together an assembly of the noblest chiefs, for the explanation her honour requires. While waiting with you for these desirable witnesses, I pray you to condescend to honour the table to which Sosie has invited you.

SOSIE
I was not mistaken, gentlemen, this word puts an end to all irresolution: the real Amphitryon is the Amphitryon who gives dinners.

AMPHITRYON
O Heaven! Can my humiliation go further? Must I indeed suffer the martyrdom of listening to all that this impostor has just said to my face, my arms bound, though his words drive me mad?

NAUCRATES
You are wrong to complain. Let us await the explanation which shall render resentment seasonable. I do not know whether he imposes upon us or not; but he speaks on the matter as though he were right.

AMPHITRYON
Go, you weak-kneed friends, and flatter the imposture. Thebes has other friends who will flock round me, different from you. I will go and find some who, sharing the insult, will know bow to lend their hand in my just cause.

JUPITER
Ah well! I await them; I shall know how to decide the discussion in their presence.

AMPHITRYON
You rogue, you think perhaps to evade justice thus; but nothing shall shield you from my vengeance.

JUPITER
I shall not now condescend to answer this insulting language; soon I shall be able to confound your fury with two words.

AMPHITRYON
Not Heaven, not Heaven itself can protect you: I shall dog your footsteps even to Hell.

JUPITER
It will not be necessary; you will soon see I shall not fly away.

AMPHITRYON
Now, before he goes away with these, I will make haste to gather together friends who will aid my cause; they will come to my house and help me to pierce him with a thousand thrusts.

JUPITER
No ceremony, I implore you; let us go quickly into the house.

NAUCRATES
Really, this adventure utterly confounds the senses and the reason.

SOSIE
A truce, gentlemen, to all your surprises; let us joyfully sit down to feed until the morning. I intend to feast well, so that I may be in good condition to relate our valiant deeds! I am itching to attack the dishes; I never felt so hungry.